Study: B Vitamin Supplements Neither Help nor Harm Colorectal Cancer Risk

Another supplement study, another finding that suggests supplements do not protect against cancer. This latest study focuses on B vitamins and colorectal adenomas or polyps, which have the potential to become cancerous.

Taking a combination of three B vitamin supplements, including folic acid, appears to neither increase nor decrease colorectal polyps, at least among women at high risk for heart disease. Earlier studies have suggested that too much folic acid may actually increase the risk of colorectal cancer for some people, so this finding showing the vitamins caused no polyps is important.

The study was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

In the study, approximately 5,500 women were randomly given a daily B vitamin supplement or placebo. The supplement was made up of folic acid (B9), vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, a vitamin found in dark leafy greens and peanuts. Continue reading

Folate and Cancer Risk: Is Timing the Key?

Folate is a B vitamin found naturally in many green leafy vegetables, nuts, legumes, and orange juice. It is needed in the body to make and repair DNA and may play a role in protecting us against cancer. 

In 1998, the US Food and Drug Administration instituted a folate fortification program to help prevent birth defects, such as spina bifida. They used folic acid, which is the synthetic form of folate. The result was a significant drop in birth defects. But recent epidemiological data have given rise to concerns that folic acid fortification may increase the risk of colorectal cancer.

An animal study published in last month’s issue of Cancer Prevention Research suggests that the cancer-related effects of folate/folic-acid may partially be explained by when and how long you take this essential nutrient.

The researchers wanted to see what effects a diet lower in folate would have on tumor development. Folate acts by serving as a methyl group donor. Methyl groups are small molecules that can attach to DNA to influence the body’s production of proteins involved in immunity and inflammation—precursors to tumor development. Continue reading