Recent findings

Many researchs have been done concerning the health benefits of folic acid.
Recent findings suggest that vitamin B9 can prevent certain types of disease.

Cervical cancer
Preliminary research shows that low intake of folic acid might increase a women's risk for developing cervical cancer.
Folic acid migth prevent the transformation of abnormal cells to cancer cells and might return damaged tissue to a healthy condition.

Heart disease
A high homocysteine* level is now believed to be a risk factor for coronary heart disease. Physicians Health Study of Boston (Massachusetts) showed that men with a high homocysteine level had three times higher risk of suffering a myocardial infarction (heart attack) than did men with lower levels.
Elevations of homocysteine levels can be due to relatively rare genetic defects but are most likely caused by a lack of folate.

Colon Cancer
Researchers of Harvard Medical School report that heavy drinking (more than 2 drinks a day) combined with a low intake of folate and methionine triples the risk of developing a colon cancer.

Researchers believe that the combination of large amounts of alcohol and insufficient amount of methionine and folate in the diet leads to abnormalities in the methylation of DNA. This may contribute to the development of cancer by activating tumor development genes and deactivating tumor suppressor genes. Alcohol drinkers should increase their intake of folate rich foods (multivitamin supplements if necessary).

Alzheimer's disease
A team of researchers from the Universities of Oxford and Bergen (Norway) reports that low folate levels are associated with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

*Homocysteine is an amino-acid that is not found in protein as such but is involved in the metabolism of other amino-acids like methionine and cystein.
Studies have shown that the level of homocysteine in the blood is inversely proportional with the level and dietary intake of folate.
The lack of folate in the diet may cause an elevation of homocysteine levels.

Realized by Laurence LIVERNAIS-SAETTEL, dietetian
© Copyright L. Livernais-Saettel 2000
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