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Radiol Oncol. 2010 Jun;44(2):79-85. doi: 10.2478/v10019-010-0022-z. Epub 2010 May 24.

Hyperhomocysteinemia and the role of B vitamins in cancer.

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  • 1College of Health Care Izola, University of Primorska, Izola, Slovenia.



Patients suffering from malignancies have increased complications due to corresponding cardiovascular diseases and risk factor for the development of venous thromboembolism. Epidemiological studies have shown that increased homocysteine plasma concentration (hyperhomocysteinemia) is related to a higher risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, peripheral vascular disease and malignancies. Homocysteine (tHcy) is an intermediate sulfur-containing amino acid produced from methionine during processing of dietary proteins. The plasma homocysteine levels are strongly influenced by diet, as well as by genetic factors. Folic acid, vitamins B6 and B12 are dietary components which influence the plasma homocysteine levels the most. Several studies have found that high blood levels of B vitamins are related to the integrity and function of DNA, and, are at least related to lower concentration of homocysteine. Folate depletion has been found to change DNA methylation and DNA synthesis in both animal and human studies. Because of this critical role of folate, most studies including homocysteine have focused on these two actions.


Hyperhomocysteinemia proves to be the most common condition highly associated with both venous and arterial thrombosis in many cancer patients, while the associated pathophysiology has not been precisely established yet. Therefore, of current interest is the possible role of folate metabolism developing into a cancer initiating hyperhomocysteinemia. This review will discuss this possibility.


B vitamins; cancer; homocysteine; hyperhomocysteinemia

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