As we try to figure out the best way to tell you that vitamins are only good if they are natural and from whole food sources someone posts this article on one of our yahoo groups. Please notice it talks about synthetic folic acid and foods fortified with it. It is always best to get our vitamins from the source. It is what nature intended.
“Can folic acid cause cancer?
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 01/09/2008
Supplements of vitamin B are thought to increase the risk of bowel
cancer, warns Jennifer Swift
Shirley Sepstrup’s busy job in a hospital lab in East Sussex left her
with little time to cook, so she often relied on convenience foods,
hoping that her daily multivitamin pill would make up for any dietary
deficiencies. But when a colonoscopy showed that, at 52, she had
developed bowel cancer – like her father, uncle and grandfather – she
had to radically change her eating habits.
Unexpected risk: Shirley Sepstrup
Out went the ready meals, and Shirley began to eat wholefoods, drink
1.5 litres of water a day, and avoid known risks for bowel cancer –
red meat, preserved meats such as ham and bacon, sugar and processed
foods. But recently she learnt of an unexpected risk: a vitamin.
Folic acid is the synthetic form of a naturally occurring B vitamin,
folate. Women who have good levels of folate in their diet, or take
folic acid supplements, are far less likely to have babies affected
by the birth defect spina bifida. America and Canada started adding
folic acid to flour in 1998 and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in
the UK has called for a similar fortification here. But recent
research has linked high folic acid consumption with an increased
risk of bowel cancer; the modest-sounding annual increase of one per
cent could, in fact, amount to an extra 3,000 cases per year in the
UK. Other evidence points to an increased risk of breast or prostate
Natural folate protects against cancer because it allows the body to
copy DNA accurately.
“But many middle-aged and elderly people have tiny pre-malignant
lesions,” says Prof Young-Im Kim of the University of
Toronto. “Excess folate, especially in the form of folic acid, can
fuel lesion growth, accelerating progression into life-threatening
cancers, because high levels of the vitamin make it easier for tumour
cells to copy themselves.”
He says that soon after fortification of flour began in North
America, the rate of bowel cancer – then in decline – abruptly
increased. The FSA’s advisers were sufficiently concerned to
recommend holding off a similar initiative until the results of two
further studies emerge later this year.
Overdosing on B vitamins was thought to be impossible because they
are water-soluble and any excess is excreted in the urine. But
evidence is mounting that folic acid circumvents the body’s natural
mechanisms for limiting folate absorption in the gut. Folic acid goes
directly to the liver, which is easily saturated, and the excess
spills out into the body.
“People with a high intake end up with unmetabolised folic acid
floating in their bloodstream,” says Dr Siân Astley of the Institute
for Food Research in Norwich. “We don’t really know what its
consequences might be.”
The recommended daily intake for folate is 200 micrograms (mcg), and
most multivitamins contain this amount of folic acid. But it is also
added to breakfast cereals, snack bars and some margarines. Official
government advice puts the safe upper limit for folic acid at
1,000mcg per day, but the leading vitamin B expert, Prof David Smith
of Oxford University, thinks there is now sufficient evidence to cut
that down to 500mcg in general and 400mcg for cancer survivors.
“If you eat a lot of fortified cereals, you may want to rethink your
daily multivitamin. Or you could stick with the vitamin pill and
switch to wholegrains without added synthetic vitamins, such as
porridge or muesli,” says Dr Astley. “Fortification is an overly
broad approach that increases everyone’s folic acid intake, instead
of targeting those who need it.”