In a new study conducted in the United States about the Folic Acid fortification program, it was found out that people who take more folate had lower risks of developing colon and rectal cancer. Furthermore, this recent study debunked the earlier theory that increased folic acid intake can lead to cancer, or poses extra-cancer related dangers.
Author of the study Todd Gibson mentioned that the benefits and detriments of folate in the diet is still an open question today but he emphasized that the latest study of his team in the National Cancer Institute in Rockville, Maryland showed that there seems to be an association between people who have increased folate intake with those who showed lower risks of developing colon and rectal cancer.
According to Gibson, most of the studies which show that folic acid can decrease the likelihood of being diagnosed with colon cancer have been carried out before the commencement of the Folic Acid Fortification Program. This latest study they had targeted to measure parameters after the said program has commenced. They also wanted to identify whether the said government mandate affected such link or theory.
The study started out in 1995 and included about 500,000 middle-aged and older adults in the US. Before the study started, the participants filled out a survey about their daily diet practices and the supplements they took daily and regularly. From that information, the researchers calculated the amount of folic acid they receive at a daily average.
For the next decade, the researchers tracked down the names of these samples in the cancer registries to identify how many of them were subsequently diagnosed with colorectal cancer. In the original sample (before the fortification), 7,200 have been recorded while after the fortification, about 6,500 were diagnosed.
The result of the study showed that the participants who took the most amount of folate each day (900 micrograms daily) were less likely to develop colon and rectal cancer by 30%, as compared to those who have less than 200 micrograms of folate intake daily. The said study has been reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Other factors have also been considered like the participants’ weight, smoking habits, physical activities and other factors worthy of consideration. However, Gibson disclaimed that the findings are not very conclusive in that people who have high intake of folate each day also showed healthy practices, other than their folate-rich diet. Gibson also stated that there is no evidence that high intake folate lead to development of cancer.
On the other hand, Dr. Young-In Kim stated that the higher susceptibility of a high folate diet to the development of cancers is due to animal studies which support the claim. Kim said that although the current study of Gibson does not support the latter finding, there is still a concern that those taking really high levels of Folic Acid supplement are at a disadvantage.
The daily recommended amount of folic acid is 400 micrograms, and 600 micrograms for pregnant women.