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Folic Acid Supplementation May Reduce the Risk of Left Side Colorectal Cancer By 45%

Colorectal cancer refers to both colon and rectal cancers. A recent study suggests that taking folic acid supplements may reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer by up to 45%. Interestingly, dietary folate intake did not reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

Participants in the study included 850 individuals with colorectal cancer, 575 of whom had colorectal cancer on the left side of the colon, 275 of whom had it on the right side of the colon. The researchers also included 958 individuals without colon cancer as control subjects.

Previous studies have suggested that different risk factors may determine whether someone develops left or ride side colon cancer.

After conducting a statistical analysis, the researchers determined that natural dietary folate intake did not seem to affect the risk of developing either right or left side colon cancer. Taking supplements of folic acid didn't seem to affect right side colon cancer either. However, 4 years of supplementation was associated with a 45% reduced risk in left side colon cancer.

The research was conducted at The University of Western Australia. It was published online ahead of print on October 4, 2012, in Nutritional Cancer.

Folate is a B vitamin that plays an essential role in the necessary functions of the human body. It has been associated with nervous system function, red blood cell formation, and hormone function. Previous studies have also found a potential link between these important vitamins and reductions in the risk of stroke, hearing loss and birth defects.

Our bodies do not naturally synthesize B vitamins. The man-made version of folate is called folic acid and can be found in supplement form and as an additive in foods such as bread, cereal and grains. Some foods naturally rich in dietary folate include liver, eggs, beans, sunflower seeds, asparagus, leafy green vegetables, oranges, strawberries, cantaloupe, and other melons.

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