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Analysis Finds No Link Between Folic Acid and Cancer Risk

Some countries fortify flour with folic acid to help prevent neural tube defects. Others do not because of concerns regarding possible increased risk of cancer associated with folic acid supplementation.

A team of researchers from the University of Oxford in the UK conducted a study to investigate the association between folic acid supplementation and cancer risk. They found that high consumption of folic acid does not put an individual at higher risk for cancer.

This analysis included 13 clinical trials and 50,000 participants. They found that 7.7% of the group of individuals taking folic acid supplements and 7.3% of those in the placebo group developed cancer during the trial periods.

The highest average intake of folic acid noted was 40 mg per day, and even that group showed no significant increase in cancer risk.

The study was published in The Lancet on January 25, 2013.

Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, a water-soluble B vitamin. Folate 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 this vitamin and reductions in hearing loss and birth defects.

Our bodies do not naturally synthesize B vitamins. However, it is easy to increase your intake by eating more folate- rich foods, such as liver, eggs, beans, sunflower seeds, asparagus, leafy green vegetables, oranges, strawberries, cantaloupes, and other melons. Folic acid can be found in supplement form and as an additive in foods such as bread, cereal and grains.

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