American Cancer Society researchers conclude that Folic Acid rich diets reduce the risk of colon cancer

July 21, 2011

Researchers from the American Cancer Society (ACS) conclude that diets rich in the supply folic acid reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.  The finding contradicts recent speculation that consuming additional folate via food fortification or supplements could increase the risk of the disease.
For the current study, Victoria Stevens, PhD and her associates evaluated data from 43,512 men and 56,011 women enrolled in the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort. One thousand twenty-three participants were diagnosed with colorectal cancer from 1999 to 2007:  a period that followed the mandatory fortification of grain products with folic acid to prevent specific birth defects. 

High intake of folate and folic acid was found to be associated with a 19 percent reduction in the risk of colorectal cancer compared to low intake.  The study is the first to examine the association of colorectal cancer risk with folate during a follow-up period that occurred entirely after the implementation of food fortification with folic acid in the United States.  "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," stated Dr Stevens, the ACS strategic director of laboratory services. "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…”. The study is published in the July, 2011 issue of the journal Gastroenterology.