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Folic Acid Supplements Don't Affect Cancer Risk, Review Finds
Date:1/25/2013

FRIDAY, Jan. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Folic acid supplements do not affect people's risk for cancer, according to a large new review.

Short-term use of these supplements is unlikely to increase or decrease overall cancer risk and has little effect on the likelihood of developing specific cancers, such as colon, prostate, lung and breast cancers, U.K. researchers found.

The research was published online Jan. 24 in The Lancet.

"The study provides reassurance about the safety of folic acid intake, either from supplements or through fortification, when taken for up to five years," study author Robert Clarke, from the University of Oxford, said in a journal news release.

"The nationwide fortification of foods involves much lower doses of folic acid than studied in these trials, which is reassuring not only for the U.S.A., who have been enriching flour with folic acid to prevent neural tube birth defects [such as spina bifida] since 1998, but also for over 50 other countries where fortification is mandatory [such as] Australia, South Africa, Chile, Argentina and Brazil," Clarke said.

The researchers analyzed all large randomized trials of folic acid supplements with or without other B vitamins up to the end of 2010. Their analysis involved roughly 50,000 people.

Those who took folic acid every day for up to five years were not significantly more likely to develop cancer than other people who took placebo pills, the study revealed. The investigators found that 7.7 percent of those who took folic acid developed cancer, while 7.3 percent in the placebo group were also diagnosed.

Even those who took the highest average daily intake of folic acid did not increase their risk for cancer, the researchers noted. Nor did they find evidence that taking folic acid for longer periods of time increased the risk for cancer.

"Both the hopes for rapid cancer prevention and the fears about rapidly increased
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