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Folate Helps Fight Colorectal Cancer

by: Michelle Bosmier

(NaturalNews) A study published earlier this year in Gastroenterology, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Institute, has revealed that folic acid may influence the likelihood of developing colorectal cancer in humans. Also known as vitamin B9, folic acid is a water soluble vitamin which is not itself biologically active, but that becomes biologically relevant following its conversion to dihydrofolic acid in the liver.

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Dr. Victoria Stevens of the American Cancer Society and the lead scientist involved in this study pointed out that "all forms and sources of folate were associated with lower risk of colorectal cancer" and that "the strongest association was with total folate, which suggests that total folate intake is the best measure to define exposure to this nutrient because it encompasses all forms and sources."

The research looked at 99,523 participants in the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort, to analyze the link between folate intake and colorectal cancer. Scientists discovered that a higher folate intake correlates positively with a lower incidence of colorectal cancer. Moreover, this was the first study which discriminated between different chemical forms of folate, by looking at both natural folates and folic acid.

Vitamin B9 is considered essential for a multitude of bodily functions: including in the synthesis and repair of DNA molecules to methylate DNA and to cofactors in a number of biological reactions. It plays a major role in aiding rapid cell division and growth, making it vital to pregnant women and children (since a lack of proper folate intake can have devastating effects on child development).

Moreover, folate is used by both children and adults to prevent anemia and produce functional red blood cells. Folate deficiency can lead to numerous health problems: including neural tube defects in developing embryos, diarrhea, macrocytic anemia with weakness or shortness of breath, nerve damage with weakness and limb numbness, mental confusion and cognitive decline. Due to the link between folate deficiency and potential neural tube defects, the World Health Organization has made recommendations concerning an increased folate intake for pregnant women.

A continuing survey of food intakes that spanned several years revealed that most adults do not in fact consume adequate amounts of folic acid from natural sources, and will often rely of chemically fortified processed foods to complement their diets. However, the recommended daily amount of folate can easily be obtained through an increased consumption of vegetables and fruits. Raw, natural foods high in folate include leafy greens, such as asparagus and spinach; dried or fresh legumes, including beans and lentils; and yeasts and sunflower seeds, while moderate amounts of folate can also be derived from many fresh fruits and vegetables (including oranges, bananas, broccoli and sprouts).

A number of medications may also interact with the bio-synthesis of folic acid.

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