Vitamin B6 and colorectal cancer: current evidence and future directions

World J Gastroenterol. 2013 Feb 21;19(7):1005-10. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v19.i7.1005.


Colorectal cancer remains the third most common cancer in both women and men worldwide. Identifying modifiable dietary factors is crucial in developing primary prevention strategies. Vitamin B6 is involved in more than 100 coenzyme reactions, and may influence colorectal cancer risk in multiple ways including through its role in one-carbon metabolism related DNA synthesis and methylation and by reducing inflammation, cell proliferation, and oxidative stress. Observational studies of dietary or dietary plus supplementary intake of vitamin B6 and colorectal cancer risk have been inconsistent with most studies reporting nonsignificant positive or inverse associations. However, published studies of plasma pyridoxal 5'-phosphate (the active form of vitamin B6) levels consistently support an approximately 30%-50% reduction in risk of colorectal cancer comparing high with low concentrations. The reasons for the discrepancy in the results between dietary-based and plasma-based studies remain unresolved. Other unresolved questions include the effects of vitamin B6 intake in early life (i.e., childhood or adolescence) and of suboptimal vitamin B6 status on colorectal cancer risk, whether the associations with vitamin B6 differ across molecular subtypes of colorectal cancer, and whether the vitamin B6-colorectal cancer association is modified by genetic variants of one-carbon metabolism.

Keywords: Adenoma; Case-control study; Cohort study; Colorectal cancer; Epidemiology; Incidence; Plasma pyridoxal 5’-phosphate; Randomized controlled trial; Vitamin B6.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Humans
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Vitamin B 6 / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamin B 6 Deficiency / drug therapy
  • Vitamin B 6 Deficiency / epidemiology


  • Vitamin B 6