Folic acid given to mother rats protects offspring from colon cancer

Folic acid supplements given to pregnant and breast-feeding rats reduced the rate of colon cancer in their offspring by 64 per cent, a new study has found.

The research, led by Dr. Young-in Kim, a at St. Michael's Hospital, adds to the growing but sometimes contradictory evidence that folic acid supplementation during pregnancy and lactation can increase or decrease the development or progression of some pediatric malignancies and common cancers in their offspring in adulthood.

For example, a separate study by Kim published in February found the daughters of rats who were given folic acid supplements before conception, during pregnancy and while have rates twice as high as other rats who were not given the supplements. They also had more tumours and developed them at a faster rate.

Kim said these studies collectively suggest that folic acid may have drastically different effects on in different organs, that specific organs may have different needs for folate, its natural form, or metabolize it differently. He said more studies, including human studies, were needed.

Kim's new study, published in Gut, a leading international journal in gastroenterology, is the first to find that folic acid supplements at the level ingested by North American women of childbearing age "significantly protects against the development of colorectal cancer in the offspring."

Folate is known to help make DNA and help it replicate.

"It appears that giving folic acid during pregnancy and lactation reduces and suppresses the proliferation of cells in the colon," Kim said. "It actually increases the stability of the DNA and this might be one of the mechanisms of how folic acid in utero may protect against ."

The amount of folic acid to which fetuses are exposed has increased dramatically in North America in the past decade. Natural folate is found in grains and dark, leafy vegetables. Women are routinely advised to take folic acid supplements before becoming pregnant and while pregnant to prevent neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida.

Since 1998, the Canadian and U.S. governments have required food manufacturers to add folic acid to white flour, enriched pasta and cornmeal products as a way of ensuring women receive enough of the B vitamin. In addition, up to 40 per cent of North Americans take for possible but as yet unproven health benefits.

Provided by St. Michael's Hospital

not rated yet

Related Stories

Folic acid cuts risk of cleft lip

Jan 26, 2007

Taking folic acid supplements in early pregnancy seems to substantially reduce the risk of cleft lip, finds a new study published in the British Medical Journal.

Folic acid linked to increased cancer rate

Nov 02, 2007

Two recent commentaries appearing in the November issue of Nutrition Reviews find that the introduction of flour fortified with folic acid into common foods was followed by an increase in colon cancer diagnoses in the U. ...

Recommended for you

Law requiring release of health information upheld

1 hour ago

(HealthDay)—A state law that requires plaintiffs to release relevant protected health information before proceeding with allegations of medical liability has been upheld by a federal appeals court, according ...

Research highlights extent and effects of school violence

2 hours ago

Six percent of U.S. children and youth missed a day of school over the course of a year because they were the victim of violence or abuse at school. This was a major finding of a study on school safety by University of New ...

Planning for the move from children's to adult palliative care

5 hours ago

The differences between children's and adult palliative care services are too wide for young people with life-limiting conditions to negotiate, according to research by Bangor University. Commenting on the findings, the researchers ...

User comments