Toronto, May 27: Folic acid supplements given to pregnant and breast-feeding females, reduced the rate of colon cancer in their offspring by 64 percent, based on mice studies.
The research, led by Young-in Kim, gastroenterologist at St. Michael’s Hospital, is the first to find that folic acid supplements at the level ingested by 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. Natural folate is found in grains and dark, leafy vegetables, reports the journal Gut.
‘It appears that giving folic acid during pregnancy and lactation reduces DNA damage and suppresses the proliferation of cells in the colon,’ Kim said, according to a St. Michael’s statement.
‘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 colon cancer.’
The amount of folic acid to which foetuses are exposed has increased dramatically in North America in the past decade.
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 US 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.