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Folic Acid Supplements Unlikely to Heighten Cancer Risks, Meta-Analysis Finds — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
January 25, 2013

Folic Acid Supplements Unlikely to Heighten Cancer Risks, Meta-Analysis Finds

By Joe Elia

Despite concerns that folic acid could increase the risks for cancer, a Lancet meta-analysis finds little supporting evidence. Commentators say the question isn't resolved yet, however.

Researchers examined patient-level data from 13 randomized trials of folic acid supplementation including a total of 50,000 patients with treatment lasting, on average, 5 years. During the duration of treatment, they found no evidence of elevated risk for cancer overall, or for individual cancer types; nor did they find an effect trend with longer treatment duration. There was also no evidence of a decreased risk.

The typical supplementation doses (2.0 mg/day) were an order of magnitude higher than those typically delivered by national flour fortification programs (roughly 0.2 mg/day in the U.S.).

Commentators advise caution in interpreting the findings. They argue that folate's relationship with cancer is complex and that longer follow-up is needed.

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