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Folic acid supplementation may be unnecessary

Category: Cancer Detection and Tumor Markers

Women who started taking folic acid supplements before or during pregnancy may benefit from colorectal cancer testing, as a new study has found that, despite the nutrient's ability to ward off defects, it may increase the risk of certain cancers.

In recent years, some health experts have recommended that all women of childbearing age increase their daily intake of folic acid. It has been shown to reduce the risk of a wide range of birth defects, including neurological problems, congenital heart disease and cleft pallet.

For the study, a team of researchers from Canada's CHEO Research Institute analyzed blood levels of folic acid in more than 5,000 individuals between the ages of 6 and 79. They found that only a very small percentage of the population had insufficient levels of the nutrient. The numbers were even smaller among women of childbearing age.

Given the fact that high levels of folic acid have been connected to colorectal cancer, the researchers said that women should think twice before upping their intake levels.

"Some medical practitioners argue that many women of childbearing age need high-dose folic acid supplements and that doubling the level of folic acid fortification in the food supply should be considered," writes Cynthia Colapinto, who led the study.

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