Folic Acid May Raise Prostate Cancer Risk
Men Taking High Doses of Folic Acid Supplements More Than Doubled Their Prostate Cancer Risk, Study Shows
Popping Pills Doesn’t Work
Kristal and Lippman write that it made sense to study single micronutrients early on because numerous studies had found that eating a healthy diet with plenty of micronutrient-rich fruits and vegetables can help protect against certain cancers.
But it is increasingly clear that if the foods we eat influence our cancer risk, the relationship is too complex to break down to single nutrients.
The newly published analysis is not the first to suggest that too much of a good thing -- in this case folic acid -- may be bad.
“The notion that some is good and therefore more is better has been proven wrong; it is more likely that for any given micronutrient, there is an optimal range of intake,” Kristal and Lippman write.
American Cancer Society epidemiologist Victoria Stevens, PhD, agrees.
“Instead of taking one multivitamin, some people will take two or three thinking that it will be two or three times better for them,” she says. “But studies like this one suggest that this approach does no good and may even be harmful.”
It is clear that taking a folic acid supplement is a good idea for women of childbearing years and those who are pregnant or nursing.
But everyone else can probably get enough folic acid without taking a supplement if they eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, Steven says.
Cereals and breads are now fortified with folic acid, and folic acid is also found in green, leafy vegetables like spinach and lettuce, and in beans, peas, squash, and citrus fruits.