Men in the study who took high doses of the vitamin had a more than twofold increase in prostate cancer risk, compared to men who did not take folic acid supplements.

Supplements are used by many to help top up vitamin levels. Vitamins and minerals, such as iron, calcium, vitamin C and vitamin D are essential nutrients that the body needs in small amounts to work properly. But evidence have shown the negative effects of taking certain supplements pertaining to its link with cancer.

Folic acid is the man-made version of the vitamin folate (also known as vitamin B9).

Folate helps the body make healthy red blood cells and is found in certain foods.

The supplement is used for preventing and treating low blood levels of folate (folate deficiency) and high blood levels of homocysteine (hyperhomocysteinemia).

Research has shown that folic acid supplements is linked to higher risk of prostate cancer.

Studies suggests a link between folic acid supplements and an increased risk for prostate cancer.

Men in the study who took high doses of the vitamin had a more than twofold increase in prostate cancer risk, compared to men who did not take folic acid supplements.

Findings highlight the potential complex role of folate in prostate cancer and the possibly different effects of folic acid–containing supplements vs natural sources of folate.

Doctor Jane C. Figueiredo of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles said: “What we can say is that a lot of folate is unlikely to be beneficial with regard to prostate cancer, and it just might be harmful,” she says.

In the analysis men were randomly assigned to a placebo or supplements with daily low-dose aspirin and 1 milligram of folic acid daily — two and a half times the recommended daily dose of the vitamin for men and for women who are not pregnant or nursing.

“Those taking aspirin alone were found to have no significant effect on prostate cancer incidence, but taking folic acid was found to increase the risk for prostate cancer by 163 percent,” said WebMD.

In an accompanying editorial, two cancer and nutrition experts concluded that “the prospects for cancer prevention through micronutrient supplementation have never looked worse.”

In another study published in BMJ, cancer risk with folic acid supplementation was further analysed.

Meta-analyses of six randomised controlled trials reporting prostate cancer incidence for the men receiving folic acid compared to controls.

“No significant difference in cancer incidence was shown between groups receiving folic acid and placebo/control group, for any other cancer type,” noted the study.

It concluded: “A meta-analysis of 10 RCTs showed a borderline significant increase in frequency of overall cancer in the folic acid group compared to controls.

“Prostate cancer was the only cancer type found to be increased after folic acid supplementation.

“Prospective studies of cancer development in populations where food is fortified with folic acid could indicate whether fortification similar to supplementation moderately increases prostate cancer risk.”

According to the NHS, folic acid can also affect the way other medicines work.

“Do not take your folic acid within two hours before or after taking indigestion remedies (antacids containing aluminium or magnesium), as they may stop folic acid being properly absorbed,” warns the health body.

Tell your doctor if you’re taking these medicines before you start taking folic acid:

  • Methotrexate, a medicine used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, psoriasis and some types of cancer
  • Phenytoin, fosphenytoin, phenobarbital or primidone, medicines used to treat epilepsy
  • Fluorouracil, capecitabine, raltitrexed or tegafur, medicines used to treat some types of cancer
  • Antibiotics, medicines used to treat or prevent bacterial infection
  • Medicines or alternative remedies that contain zinc (including throat lozenges and cold remedies)
  • Sulfasalazine, a medicine used to treat the inflammatory bowel conditions ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
    Cholestyramine, a medicine used to reduce cholesterol.

Source: Express

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