Folic Acid supplementation: long term safety is not an excuse for inaction
by: Michal R. Pijak
I share Lucock´s (1) concerns related to the fact that "the form of folate in supplements and in fortified foods is pteroylmonoglutamate (PGA), a form that does not occur in nature". The author is rightly critical of increasing tendency among clinicians to give supraphysiological doses of PGA.
In this regard, Ie would like to note that in Slovakia the single PGA is available only in 10 mg capsules. This dose is more than 20 times that needed to give maximal concentrations of the normal form of vitamin in plasma. Moreover, physicians are regularly prescribing up to 30mg/day of PGA according to the Prescription Drug Information.
The major concern, as Lucock point out, is that "we do not know the long-term biological effects of exposure to unmodified synthetic folate". In fact, there is evidence that neurological complications in patients with vitamin B12 deficiency (2) are not the only possible risk of folate supplementation. For example, animal and some clinical studies have suggested that folate supplementation in higher doses may increase cancer risk and accelerate tumor progression (3).
Because the long-term effects of PGA are not known, the best way of folate supplementation is through natural food. Those who are healthy and live healthy life (including eating natural food rich in folate) do not need to take folate in its synthetic supplement form.
In certain situations, however, as is the case for some aged individuals and alcoholics, supplements containing recommended amounts of PGA may be warranted. (4,5) Nevertheless, the countries that adopted a policy of folate fortification of foods should provide monitoring of the benefits and possible harms of such fortification.
1. Lucock M. Is folic acid the ultimate functional food component for disease prevention? BMJ 2004;328:211-4.
2. Reynolds EH. Benefits and risks of folic acid to the nervous system. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 2002;72:567-71.
3. Kim YI. Role of folate in colon cancer development and progression. J Nutr. 2003;133:3731S-3739S.
4. Bailey LB. Folate, methyl-related nutrients, alcohol, and the MTHFR 677C-->T polymorphism affect cancer risk: intake recommendations. J Nutr 2003;133:3748S-3753S.
5. Wharton B, Booth I. Fortification of flour with folic acid. BMJ 2001;323:1198-9.
Latest Cancer News:
Cancer deaths rise to 8.2 million, breast cancer sharply up
By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - The global death toll from cancer rose to 8.2 million in 2012 with sharp rises in breast cancer as the disease tightened its grip in developing nations struggling to treat an illness driven by Western lifestyles. Cancer deaths were up 8 percent from 7.6 million in a previous survey in 2008 and breast cancer killed 522,000 women last year, up 14 percent in the ... Cancer deaths rise to 8.2M, breast cancer sharply up
The global death toll from cancer rose to 8.2 million in 2012 with sharp rises in breast cancer as the disease tightened its grip in developing nations struggling to treat an illness driven by Western lifestyles. Cancer killed 8 million people worldwide in 2012, breast cancer cases up
Ananth Baliga Dec. 12 (UPI) -- WHO reports 14.1 million new cases of cancer worldwide in 2012 with 8.2 million cancer-related deaths, and yearly cases are expected to reach 19.3 million by 2025. New Cancer Cases Increase More Than 10 Percent in 4 Years
There were 14.1 million new cases of cancer in 2012, compared to 12.7 million in 2008. Cancer rates worldwide on the rise, fueled by breast cancer
GENEVA, Switzerland, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Worldwide, 14 million people developed cancer last year up from 12.7 million cases in 2008, the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Switzerland said. Report: Cancer killed 8.2 million people in 2012
World Health Organization report finds cancer deaths were up 8 percent since 2008, with breast cancer diagnoses lone rising 20 percent Cancer progress threatened by budget cuts in Congress, group says
Nine new cancer drugs approved in just one year. A speedy new process for approving drugs that gets breakthrough treatments to cancer patients faster. New research that shows a cheap household product ? vinegar ? can save tens of thousands of lives. Study says many lung cancer tumors prove harmless
CHICAGO (AP) ? Harmless lung cancer? A provocative study found that nearly 1 in 5 lung tumors detected on CT scans are probably so slow-growing that they would never cause problems. Cancer cases up 11%, breast cancer by a fifth: WHO
The number of new cancer cases around the globe jumped by 11 percent in a five-year period, reaching 14.1 million in 2012, with breast cancer increasing by one-fifth, the UN health agency said Thursday. Cancer deaths rise to 8.2M, breast cancer up
LONDON (Reuters) - The global death toll from cancer rose to 8.2 million in 2012 with sharp rises in breast cancer as the disease tightened its grip in developing nations struggling to treat an illness driven by Western lifestyles. Breast cancer drug can also prevent cancer, study finds - NBCNews.com