Folic acid supplements might help lower colorectal cancer risk, especially in people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), according to a study from the University of Leeds, UK. Patients with IBD are at risk of folic acid deficiency because of intestinal malabsorption. Since poor folic acid status has been linked to a higher risk of colon cancer, the researchers set out to see if supplementation with this B vitamin in patients with IBD could lower their risk for the disease. This review of the research included ten studies reporting on a total of 4,517 patients. Results showed that folic acid supplements lowered colorectal cancer risk by 42%. The researchers conclude that “…folic acid is a cheap, safe, and well-tolerated supplement that may have a role in the prevention of colorectal cancer.”
In Perspective: This year, there will be more than 134,000 cases of colon cancer reported, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute estimates. Up to half of all those cases could be prevented with diet, weight management, and increased physical activity.
Burr N, Hull M, Subramanian V: Folic acid supplementation may reduce colorectal cancer risk in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology 2016; February 22nd.