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Vitamins and Plant Ingredients

Dietary intake of B vitamins and methionine and risk of lung cancer



B vitamins and related enzymes involved in one-carbon metabolism are necessary for DNA replication, DNA repair and regulation of gene expression. Disruption of one-carbon mechanism may affect cancer risk. We investigated prospectively the relationship between dietary intakes of methionine, B vitamins associated with one-carbon metabolism and risk of lung cancer.


The Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study recruited 41 514 men and women aged 40–69 years between 1990 and 1994. During follow-up of 14 595 men and 22 451 women for an average of 15 years, we ascertained 348 incident lung cancers. Dietary intake of B vitamins and methionine was estimated from a 121-item food frequency questionnaire. Hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated using Cox regression.


In current smokers, dietary intake of riboflavin was inversely associated with lung cancer risk (HR=0.53; 95% CI: 0.29–0.94, fifth versus first quintile; P-linear trend=0.01). No associations were found for former or never smokers or for dietary intake of any of the other B vitamins or methionine.


Overall, we found little evidence of an association between B vitamins or methionine and lung cancer risk. The weak inverse association between riboflavin and lung cancer risk in current smokers needs further investigation.

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This study was made possible by the contribution of many people, including the original investigators and the diligent team who recruited the participants and who continue working on follow-up. We would also like to express our gratitude to the many thousands of Melbourne residents who continue to participate in the study. Cohort recruitment was funded by VicHealth and The Cancer Council Victoria. This work was supported by infrastructure from the Cancer Council Victoria and grants from the NHMRC (209057, 251533 and 520316).

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Correspondence to J K Bassett.

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Bassett, J., Hodge, A., English, D. et al. Dietary intake of B vitamins and methionine and risk of lung cancer. Eur J Clin Nutr 66, 182–187 (2012).

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