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Folate Linked to Lower Risk of Colorectal Cancer

Previous studies have suggested that folic acid, the synthetic form of folate, may increase the risk of colorectal cancer. However, a study that examined the effects of folic acid fortification in the U.S. suggests that folic acid may actually reduce your risk of developing colorectal cancer.

The study was a joint effort by researchers from Yale, the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Rockville; the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, and AARP.

The findings were published on August 3, 2011 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The researchers analyzed data collected as part of the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study, which looked at 525,488 people between the ages of 50 and 71. Over the course of nine years, 7,212 people developed colorectal cancer, of which 6,484 occurred after folic acid fortification was introduced.

People who consumed the most folate/folic acid (a minimum of 900 mg daily) had a 30% less likely chance of developing colorectal cancer than people taking less than 200 mg daily.

Folate is a B vitamin that plays a very important role in many essential functions in the human body including nervous system function, red blood cell formation, and hormone function. It is also linked to reducing the risk of depression, hearing loss and birth defects.

Folate can be found in liver, eggs, beans, sunflower seeds, asparagus, leafy green vegetables, oranges, strawberries, cantaloupes, and other melons. Folic acid—the man-made form of folate—can be found in supplement form and as an additive in foods such as bread, cereal and grains.

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