Folic acid deficiency is the primary cause of spina bifida in utero.  For this reason, pregnant women are recommended to take doses of the supplement during their pregnancy. 

However, a new study shows that folate, or folic acid, when taken in large amounts could actually increase the risk of breast cancer. 

Although the interaction between folic acid and breast cancer has long been the subject of controversy, in more recent times the vitamin, which was previously believed to reduce breast cancer risk, now has been shown in lab research to actually enhance that risk. 

These news are particularly important to people who are breast cancer survivors, since many of them are given folic acid supplementation and could easily fall into the category of excessive folate assumption. 

The reason why it is easy to assume high doses of folate is because it has become one of the most common food integrators, so that a person taking supplements could be doubling or tripling the daily suggested dosage just by eating foods that have been enriched with the vitamin. 

Even the guidelines of the CDC, which recommended 4,000 units of folate for gestating mothers in the first trimester, might have to be revised.  

In fact, any dosage that is 2.5 to 5 times higher than the recommended standard daily dosage, was observed to promote the growth of existing precancerous cells in the mammary glands of rats. 

Another note of caution, is for those who are drinkers.  People who drink moderate to high amounts of alcohol actually benefit from high doses of folate, because in their case, alcohol consumption reduces folate levels in the blood, and low folate levels are characteristic of higher breast cancer risk. 

So in the end, the guidelines will have to take into account lifestyle and diet, including alcohol intake. 

Source : MNT/ 1.24.14

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