Folic acid may up risk of colon cancer

August 8, 2007 in Cancer Prevention, Healthy Eating, Nutrition Topics in the News

Folic acid may up risk of colon cancer

It's clear that folic acid reduces the rate of birth defects. However, since folic acid fortification of certain foods began there have been 15,000 more cases of colon cancer each year.

Since the late 1990s, folic acid has been added to cereal, flours, pastas and rice to prevent neural tube defects in the unborn (In Canada folic acid is added to white flour and pasta.). However, a report from Tufts University is saying that the extra folic acid may explain an increase in the rate of colon cancer.

On average, about 400 Canadians are diagnosed with colon cancer every week and up to half of adults over 50 may have precancerous cells in their intestines. It's thought that too much folic acid may feed the growth of these precancerous cells.

Folic acid is a B vitamin that occurs naturally in spinach, asparagus, lentils, oranges and whole grains.  Women of child-bearing potential need 400 micrograms of folic acid per day to reduce their chance of giving birth to an infant with neural tube defects.

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