November 17, 2009
Folic Acid Boosts Cancer Risk?

A vitamin boosts cancer risk?

Patients with heart disease in Norway, a country with no fortification of foods with folic acid, had an associated increased risk of cancer and death from any cause if they had received treatment with folic acid and vitamin B12, according to a study in the November 18 issue of JAMA.

Most epidemiological studies have found inverse associations between folate (a B vitamin) intake and risk of colorectal cancer, although such associations have been inconsistent or absent for other cancers, according to background information in the article. “Experimental evidence suggests that folate deficiency may promote initial stages of carcinogenesis, whereas high doses of folic acid may enhance growth of cancer cells. Since 1998, many countries, including the United States, have implemented mandatory folic acid fortification of flour and grain products to reduce the risk of neural-tube birth defects,” the authors write. “Recently, concerns have emerged about the safety of folic acid, in particular with respect to cancer risk.”

Med Page Today has a more detailed breakdown of the statistical results.

Foods naturally high in folic acid might still be beneficial since greens, for example, have lots of other nutrients in them. But efforts to convert refined foods into high vitamin foods might be problematic. Eat your greens and beans for higher folic acid in foods that have a lot of other things going for them.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 November 17 09:54 PM  Aging Diet Cancer Studies

bigtroutz said at November 19, 2009 12:50 PM:

When you read the details, you will discover that the study results were almost insignificant [(10%) developed cancer vs.(8.4%)] and likely confounded by massive [over]doses of B12 [2.4 μg/day USA recommended vs 400 μg given in study]. The results were further confounded by skewed patient selection and inadequate patient history data. in conclusion, another bullcrap study. Ignore it.

tim in vermont said at November 19, 2009 2:15 PM:

This is not the only study to show the risk. Others have showed that folic acid in vitamin pills can double the rate of prostate cancer. If there was a study that showed such an increase in, say, breast cancer. All such vitamins would be recalled.

jgreene said at November 19, 2009 2:45 PM:

This is absolute nonsensical flawed statistical data. But quite typical of "studies" with incomplete information. My wife and I walked out of a Doctor's office recently when he began "railing" about how supplemental Vitamins were unhealthy.

Sad state of the allopathic medical profession today. I think a lot of older doctors are going to have to die before we can progress in understanding how the body and mind heals.

Keryn said at November 19, 2009 3:08 PM:

Yikes. I take a mega-dose of folic acid (4mg/day) because I have a child with a neural tube defeat (spina bifida). This dosage, taken in the three months before conception and the first trimester, will reduce my risk of having another child with the same problem.

Just another good reminder that nothing is without risks; you just have to weigh them.

foodstuff said at November 19, 2009 3:10 PM:

Troutz, recommended rda of folic acidis not 2.4 ugs, but 400.

Twillis said at November 19, 2009 4:09 PM:

I never take anything stronger than battery acid, as it is known to prohibit the growth of everything. Folic acid is deadly!

Carl Pham said at November 19, 2009 5:05 PM:

Another interesting insight into the difference between men and women. My understanding is that pregnant women, maybe all women, SHOULD take the stuff, but men SHOULD NOT. How we square that with the assumption that primitive men and women at the same diet is beyond me. Maybe they didn't? Weird.

tim in vermont said at November 19, 2009 5:36 PM:

Folic acid derived from vegetable matter does not seem to cause cancer. The problem with pills is that they produce a burst of the substance in the blood stream which acts like miracle grow on some tumors. It may not even "cause" cancer, it may just grow existing cancers, but whatever. I wish they would take it out of men's vitamins. Since ancient humans didn't eat vitamin pills, I am pretty sure that different diets was not an issue.

cubanbob said at November 20, 2009 12:38 AM:

Folic acid is know to promote cancer growth in existing tumors which is why it is contraindicated for people undergoing cancer treatments. Indeed some cancer drugs work by inhibiting a cells ability to use the vitamin. Folic acid is required by cells for division which is why in cancer treatment it is potentially deadly. However based on this post the methodology looks pretty shaky. Short conclusion of the study is this: insufficient amount of folic acid and B12 adds to the risk of acquiring (carcinogenesis) cancer but once one has colorectal cancer folic acid is a cancer promoter. So absent a thorough screening you won't know on which side of the divide you are on. I suspect until such time the genome is far better understood and individual genome studies are available it will be difficult to determine who will benefit from higher doses and who won't or worse be endangered by them.

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