Good Nutrition Nutrition and Nutrients

Nutrition Notes

Folic acid and Cancer

Folic acid has received increased research, government and public attention in the past decade or so. The new perception is that are many possible benefits to folic acid supplementation of the diet. The policies of the Alpha Nutrition Program and Alpha Nutrient formulations have been altered to include a folic acid supplementation level of at least 400 ug per day. The level of folic acid is all our formulas has been increased to achieve this goal.

Increased folic acid intake appears to be a good idea in designing diets to prevent cancer of the colon and breast. Choi and Mason suggested different roles that folic acid might play in preventing cancer: “The evidence from epidemiologic, animal and human studies strongly suggests that folate status modulates the risk of developing cancers in selected tissues, the most notable of which is the colorectum.

Folate depletion appears to enhance carcinogenesis whereas folate supplementation above what is presently considered to be the basal requirement appears to convey a protective effect. The means by which this modulation of cancer risk is mediated is not known with certainty, but there are several plausible mechanisms which have been described. Folate plays a major role in the formation of S-adenosylmethionine, the universal methyl donor, as well as in the formation of purine and thymidine synthesis for DNA and RNA. Therefore, most mechanistic studies performed to date have focused on alterations in DNA methylation, disruption of DNA integrity and disruption of DNA repair, all of which have been observed with folate depletion. These aberrations in DNA are believed to enhance carcinogenesis by altering the expression of critical tumor suppressor genes and proto-oncogenes.” ( see abstract)

According to Fuchs, a diet rich in folic acid, high in methionine and low in alcohol reduce the risk of colon cancer. Alcohol consumption of more than two drinks per day increase the cancer risk four fold. 400 mcg per day of folic acid through supplementation and 200 mcg in the diet reduce colon cancer incidence.(see abstract) Zhang et al concluded that folic acid is protective against breast cancer especially for women who have a higher risk of developing breast cancer because of alcohol consumption. (see abstract)

Some Folic Acid Topics from Nutrition Notes

[i] Choi SW; Mason JB .Folate and carcinogenesis: an integrated scheme. J Nutr 2000 Feb;130(2):129-32 Vitamin and Carcinogenesis Program, Jean Mayer U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. [ii] Zhang SM; Willett WC; Selhub J; Hunter DJ; Giovannucci EL; Holmes MD; Colditz GA; Hankinson SE. Plasma folate, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, homocysteine, and risk of breast cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst 2003 Mar 5;95(5):373-80