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Does folic acid cause cancer?

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By Jimmy Downs

Friday Jan 26, 2013 (foodconsumer.org) -- A new study in the Lancet suggests that high doses of folic acid or commonly known as folate does not cause cancer.  Some early studies show supplemental folic acid in high doses may increase risk of cancer.

Folic acid is added to wheat flour to help prevent birth defects in women at child-bearing ages.  But some studies found an associaiton between folic acid fortification and increased risk of cancer in older women who are not expected to have children.

The study analysed data from multiple trials in which 0.5 to 5 mg per day of folic acid was used by subjects and the 7.7 percent of people with high take were diagnosed with any kind of cancer compared with 7.3 percent among people who had low intake of folic acid, which the researchers said is not statistically significantly different although the  possibility of folic acid causing cancer can not be completely ruled out.

Reuters reported that Americans have 0.5 mg of folic acid from fortified foods.  That is, the intake of folic acid from fortified foods for most people should not have an effect on the risk of any cancer.

The researchers also found that folic acid intake was not assoicated with any cancers including prostate cancer and breast cancer.

Folic acid found high in green leafy vegetables such as spinach is generally considered safe, but people do not have some concern about the safety of supplemental folic acid.  Epidemiologic studies found a link between high supplemental folic acid intake and risk of certain cancers like breast cancer.

The current study may not have the final say about the safety of added folic acid.  But people, women and men as well should eat sufficient green leafy vegetables to have enough intake of folic acid and other micronutrients that are not found in meats and dairy products.

 

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