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Health benefits, consequences of folic acid dependent on circumstances
Date:4/1/2009

rbors a pre-cancerous or cancerous tumor consumes too much folic acid, the additional amounts of folate may instead facilitate the promotion of cancer. In countries in which the fortification of flour with folic acid is working well, additional supplementation in the form of vitamin pills can lead to excessive intakes of the vitamin, which can then have undesirable adverse effects.

Thus, folate appears to assume different guises depending on the circumstances. The level of intake of this micronutrient that is safe for one person may be potentially harmful to another.

"These effects of folate on the risk of developing cancer have created a global dilemma in the efforts to institute nationwide folic acid fortification programs around the world," Mason notes.

Most individuals in the U.S. population are now folate-replete, so one consideration would be to reduce the doses of the vitamin that are present in most over-the-counter supplements. Many people receive sufficient amounts of folate through their diet.

Now that the supply of folic acid in the diet is much larger than it was prior to mandatory fortification, food policies may need to be adjusted to the current knowledge and the new circumstances.

"The design of cogent public health policies that effectively optimize health for many while presenting no or minimal risk to others, must often occur in the absence of complete information," Mason concludes. "However, we are nevertheless obliged to deliberate with as much of an in-depth understanding as the existing science allows."


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Contact: Amy Molnar
professionalnews@bos.blackwellpublishing.net
201-748-8844
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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