Study: Folate May Reduce Colorectal Cancer Risk

Doctors have long recommended folic acid to prevent neural tube birth defects. Now a new study suggests high levels of the B vitamin might reduce the risk of colorectal cancer – a finding in line with earlier studies, according to a press release from the American Cancer Society.

Folic acid can be found in foods such as leafy green vegetables, fruits, dried beans, peas and nuts. Many cereals and breads are enriched with folic acid, which helps the body make new cells, according to the National Institutes of Health.

“The study is reassuring,” according to the news release, “as previous recent evidence has suggested that consumption of very high levels of folate through supplements and from (a) folate-fortified diet may increase (the) risk of some cancers.”

The study, conducted by American Cancer Society researchers, appeared in the journal Gastroenterology.

Researchers analyzed the medical records of more than 99,000 people who participated in the national Cancer Prevention Study II. They determined that people taking high levels of both folic acid and folate had a lower risk for developing colorectal cancer.

“While folate fortification has been a public health success in reducing the risk of neural tube defects, the potential for an increase risk of cancer has been legitimate,” said Dr. Victoria Stevens, strategic director of laboratory services at the American Cancer Society. “Our study population included many participants who consumed these very high levels of folate and we found no increased risk of colorectal cancer in these individuals.”

Source: American Cancer Society

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