Folic acid during pregnancy reduces rate of colon cancer in offspring

April 10, 2016

"It appears that giving folic acid during pregnancy and lactation reduces DNA damage and suppresses the proliferation of cells in the colon," Kim said. "It actually increases the stability of the DNA and this might be one of the mechanisms of how folic acid in utero may protect against colon cancer."

The amount of folic acid to which fetuses are exposed has increased dramatically in North America in the past decade. Natural folate is found in grains and dark, leafy vegetables. Women are routinely advised to take folic acid supplements before becoming pregnant and while pregnant to prevent neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida.

Since 1998, the Canadian and U.S. governments have required food manufacturers to add folic acid to white flour, enriched pasta and cornmeal products as a way of ensuring women receive enough of the B vitamin. In addition, up to 40 per cent of North Americans take folic acid supplements for possible but as yet unproven health benefits.

Source: St. Michael's Hospital