Monday, November 27, 2006

Folate and cancer

I must admit I don't really understand all the hubbub about folate and cancer. First we have this strange business where some say that low levels of folate in one's diet either increase the risk of colon cancer, or else decrease it. Take your pick.

And now we read that, as far as breast cancer is concerned, it doesn't have anything to do with risk:

Dietary Folate Intake Not Associated With Breast Cancer Risk
Folate, a vitamin that is abundant in fruits and vegetables, helps maintain DNA integrity, and a lack of it has been associated with DNA strand breaks and disruptions in DNA repair. Previous studies have suggested that increased folate intake may be associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer, but this association was not replicated by large studies that followed study participants prospectively. In addition, a common genetic change in the gene encoding a key enzyme in folate metabolism, called MTHFR, can lead to low folate levels in the body and therefore could be associated with breast cancer risk.

OK, so folate somehow is good for DNA integrity in the petri dish. Fair enough. Evidently, however, there's more to the story when folate is ingested with one's food. Like, maybe, it has a hard time reaching one's cells where it can do some good. Looks like we have a drug delivery issue here.

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