Medical Journal Attempts To Deceive
Readers on Benefits of Folic Acid
A recent study linking folic acid and vitamin B12 supplements
with higher risks of cancer is misleading, claim two trade associations
representing dietary supplement manufacturers and ingredient suppliers.
The research, published in the Journal of the American Medical
Association (JAMA), revealed that heart patients in Norway, where
foods are not fortified with folic acid, were more likely to die
from cancer if they took folic acid and vitamin B12 supplements
than those who did not take them.
Lung cancer rates were 59 per cent higher in those who took the
supplements compared with those who did not, according to the
study conducted at Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway.
But the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) and the Health
Food Manufacturers'Association(HFMA) claim that the research reveals
the dangers of smoking not of taking folic acid and vitamin B12
Andrew Shao, CRNs vice president, scientific and regulatory
affairs, said: The real headline of this study should be
that smoking increases the risk of lung cancer. The study found
that a total of 94 per cent of the subjects who developed lung
cancer were either current or former smokers. Most health experts
would agree that the number one way to prevent lung cancer is
to abstain from smoking.
The results are inconsistent with the larger body of data and
any link between folic acid and vitamin B12 supplements has not
been observed previously, he added.
Given that mandatory folic acid fortification went into
effect in the United States in 1998, if high doses of folic acid
have a paradoxical effect on lung cancer, then we likely would
not have seen these drastic reductions in lung cancer incidence
over the past two decades. It is inappropriate at this point to
reach firm conclusions based on such limited data, especially
in the face of vast evidence showing benefit for folic acid supplementation,
Graham Keen, HFMA executive director, said: "The main reason
for the finding of increased incidences in the Norwegian study
is due to lung cancer. 40% of the subjects were current smokers
and of all the lung cancer diagnoses, 70% were in current and
24% in former smokers. The main concern of this study had been
a possible link with colorectal cancer - a link that was not found."
"There is an overwhelming body of evidence supporting the
role folic acid plays in many groups, specifically pregnant women,
where it helps to prevent birth defects such as spina bifida,"
Peter Engel, spokesperson of DSM Nutritional Products Europe
told NutraIngredients.com that the authors found a non-statistically
signficant association between folate treatment and cancer incidence
and mortality at folate acid supplemenation levels 4-6 fold higher
than those achieved with mandatory fortification.
In terms of primary outcomes, colorectal cancer incidence
and mortality, subjects in the 2nd quartile of serum folate levels
(3.8-10.6 ng/mL) had the lowest incidence and risk of colorectal
cancer mortality, lower than that in Quintile 1, wrote Engel
in statement. This provides evidence that achieving adequate
folate status (Quintile 2 vs Quintile 1) protects against both
development and promotion of cancer whereas pharmacologic doses
Also current evidence shows that average folic acid intake in
United States adults is inversely related to cancer incidence,
Engel pointed out. Prospective analyses indicate that US fortification
of foods with folic acid was associated with 50% reductions in
mortality risk from colorectal cancer
The Norewegian study was entitled Cancer Incidence and Mortality
After Treatment with Folic Acid and Vitamin B12.
Reference Source 184
November 19, 2009