Men who take folic acid supplements may be putting themselves at significantly greater risk for developing prostate cancer, according to new research published online yesterday at the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
In this new study, 650 men were asked to take either daily supplements of one milligram of folic acids or a placebo. Researchers followed the men for about 10 years and recorded new cases of prostate cancer.
Overall, men who took folic acid supplements had twice the risk of developing prostate cancer than their peers who took placebos.
The findings add to a growing body of evidence that too much folic acid - more than one milligram per day - may not protect against certain types of cancer and may do more harm than good.
To get one milligram of folic acid, a man would have to take about two and a half multivitamins a day.
Given that folic acid is added to many food products (white flour, enriched pasta) to prevent birth defects, men who take supplements could easily exceed one milligram a day, according to the study's lead author.
Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, a naturally-occurring B vitamin found in leafy greens vegetables (kale, romaine lettuce, spinach), legumes (beans) and some fruits. It helps produce and maintain healthy cells and is involved in numerous metabolic functions.
Folate, the natural form of folic acid in food, is linked to a decreased incidence of prostate cancer.
Click here for more information about nutrition strategies to prevent prostate cancer.
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