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

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2012 Feb;66(2):182-7. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2011.157. Epub 2011 Aug 31.


Background/objectives: 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.

Subjects/methods: 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.

Results: 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.

Conclusion: 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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Australia
  • Carbon / metabolism
  • Cohort Studies
  • DNA / metabolism
  • Diet Surveys
  • Diet*
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Lung Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Methionine / administration & dosage*
  • Methionine / pharmacology
  • Middle Aged
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Riboflavin / administration & dosage
  • Riboflavin / pharmacology
  • Riboflavin / therapeutic use*
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / metabolism*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vitamin B Complex / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamin B Complex / pharmacology


  • Vitamin B Complex
  • Carbon
  • DNA
  • Methionine
  • Riboflavin