Wed, Oct 07, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Folic acid reduces cancer risk: study

LIVER DELIVERS Researchers who analyzed national nutrition polls and conducted blood tests said that dark veggies and pork liver could help prevent breast cancer


Adequate folic acid intake can help reduce cancer risk, particularly breast cancer, a researcher said yesterday.

“Eating a plate of dark green vegetables daily could help lower the risk of breast cancer by 20 percent to 40 percent,” said Sun Chien-an (孫建安), a professor in the Department of Public Health at Fu jen Catholic University. “Eating a bit of pork liver occasionally is also helpful in reducing the risk of cancer.”

Sun made the comments based on findings of a research project he conducted over the past 10 years at the request of the Department of Health (DOH) on the correlation between folic acid intake and the risk of cancer.

Sun said his research team analyzed the findings of national nutrition surveys between 1992 and 1996, conducted blood tests on residents in two townships — Hsinchu County’s Jhudong (竹東) and Chiayi County’s Putzih (朴子) — and tracked the changes for more than 10 years.

The team also factored in information from databanks that recorded the condition of local cancer patients and causes of death, Sun said.

The researchers found the incidence of breast cancer among the group of people who took more than 415 micrograms of folic acid daily was 25 percent lower than among those whose daily intake of folic acid was less than 260 micrograms.

The research also found that the incidence of breast cancer was 44 percent lower among those who had folic acid concentrations of more than 17.2 nanograms per 100 milliliters in their blood than among those who recorded folic acid concentrations of 7.2 nanograms or less per 100 milliliters.

Further analysis showed that the incidence of various forms of cancer among those whose daily folic acid intake exceeded 415 micrograms over the past 15 years was only 8 percent, compared with 9.7 percent among those whose daily folic acid intake fell below the daily minimum.

“These findings indicate that foods rich in folic acid can help prevent cancer,” Sun said.

Speaking at the same event, Lin Hsueh-jung (林雪蓉), director of the DOH’s Bureau of Food Safety, said that daily folic acid intake should increase with age.

“For those younger than four, the daily intake of folic acid should be no less than 200 micrograms, and for those aged 13 and over it should be more than 400 micrograms,” Lin said, adding that the minimum daily intake for pregnant women should be at least 600 micrograms.

Lin said folic acid was a water-soluble vitamin necessary for human cell division and growth and that it was found widely in natural foods, including dark green vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli and cabbage, as well as in whole grains, beans, animal liver and foods containing yeast.

The results of national nutrition surveys show the intake of folic acid among Taiwanese is less than half the recommended amount and the deficiency is most serious in teens aged 13 to 18.

Lin said foreign researchers have also found that adequate folic acid intake can significantly lower the risk of colorectal cancer and can help prevent many other forms of cancer, including cervical, liver, lung, colon and gastric cancer.

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