Folic acid in multivitamins is linked to breast cancer
Women who take conventional multivitamins may be endangering their health. A 9 year study in Sweden found that women who took multivitamins were actually more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer. Why? The researchers think that it could be the high dose of folic acid found in most multivitamins.
Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, one of the B vitamins. Natural folate, abundant in green vegetables, is known for preventing neural tube defects during early pregnancy, and is also important for immune function, cardiovascular health, and cancer prevention. Taking synthetic folic acid is not the same as getting natural folate from plant foods.
The body processes folate and folic acid differently. Real folate from food is protective, fake folate from supplements may be dangerous:
•A study compared breast cancer mortality rates between women who took folic acid during their pregnancy and those that did not. Thirty years later those women who followed the typical recommendations to take folic acid were twice as likely to die from breast cancer.2
•A 10-year study on women taking multivitamins concluded that those who took multivitamins containing folic acid increased their breast cancer risk by 20-30%.3
•A study investigating both food folate and synthetic folic acid found that only supplemental folic acid increased breast cancer risk. In other studies, women with low levels of food folate intake were more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer.4,5 Not enough natural folate and too much folic acid both increase risk.
Not enough natural folate and too much folic acid both increase risk.
Folic acid may disrupt the normal actions of natural folate, resulting in increased risk of several cancers, breast cancer included – and Americans are consuming more folic acid than ever before. Between conventional multivitamins and mandatory fortification of refined grain products (white rice, white flour, etc.), Americans are exposed to excessive amounts of folic acid on a daily basis. Many scientists have expressed concern that this excess folic acid poses serious risks of cancer to the population.6-9 Most people (including most physicians) are completely unaware that these issues and risks exist; and this ignorance can be dangerous.
Learn more in Dr. Fuhrman's new Position Paper, Issue #45: Folate
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