Researchers in the United Kingdom and Texas are reporting a new, more detailed explanation for the link between low folate intake and an increased risk for colon cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States.
Their study reinforces the importance of folate in a healthy diet.
Susan Duthie and colleagues note that researchers have known for years that a deficiency of folate, one of the B vitamins commonly called folic acid, increases the risk of birth defects. As a result, manufacturers enrich some foods with folate.
Scientists also have found that low folate in the diet increases the risk of developing colon cancer in adults. However, scientists lack an adequate explanation of how folate depletion affects the genes, proteins, and cells involved in cancer.
In this new research, scientists grew human colon cells in folate-depleted and folate-enriched tissue culture. They found that folate depletion caused increased DNA damage and a cascade of other biological changes linked to an increased cancer risk.
- Duthie et al. The Response of Human Colonocytes to Folate Deficiency in Vitro: Functional and Proteomic Analyses. Journal of Proteome Research, 2008; 7 (8): 3254 DOI: 10.1021/pr700751y
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