27 June 2018
Several B vitamins are essential in the one-carbon metabolism pathway, which is central to DNA methylation, synthesis, and repair. Moreover, an imbalance in this pathway has been linked to certain types of cancers. Here, we performed a meta-analysis in order to investigate the relationship between the intake of four dietary one-carbon metabolism-related B vitamins (B2, B6, folate, and B12) and the risk of esophageal cancer (EC). We searched PubMed, Web of Science, and Embase for relevant studies published through 1 March 2018. The odds ratio (OR) with 95% confidence interval (CI) for the highest versus the lowest level of each dietary B vitamin was then calculated. From 21 articles reporting 26 studies including 6404 EC cases and 504,550 controls, we found an inverse correlation between the consumption of vitamin B6 and folate and the risk of EC; this association was specific to the US, Europe, and Australia, but was not found in Asia. A dose-response analysis revealed that each 100 μg/day increase in folate intake reduced the risk of EC by 12%. Moreover, each 1 mg/day increase in vitamin B6 intake decreased the risk of EC by 16%. Surprisingly, we found that each 1 μg/day increase in vitamin B12 intake increased the risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma by 2%, particularly in the US and Europe, suggesting both geographic and histological differences. Together, our results suggest that an increased intake of one-carbon metabolism-related B vitamins may protect against EC, with the exception of vitamin B12, which should be consumed in moderation.