Colon Cancer and Low Folate

Christina Dodd 

Colon cancer kills 655,000 people worldwide each year, making it the third leading cause of cancer related death and third common cause of cancer. In the United States alone 120,000 citizens are diagnosed with this disease each year with 55,000 citizens dying from colon cancer annually. Doctors recommend that regular colon cancer screening begin at age 50 for those at high risk of developing the disease. Screening for colon cancer can include fecal occult blood testing, colonoscopies, virtual colonoscopies and many other methods. Colon cancer can be prevented if detected early because most colon cancer forms from benign tumors that turn cancerous over a period of time if left untreated. Treatment includes surgery and chemotherapy for patients willing to treat their disease. A recent study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition claims that a low amount of folate can lead to the development of colon cancer, colorectal cancer, or rectal cancer.

A study done in a hospital involved 596 men and women that suffer from colorectal cancer and 509 controls who ranged in age from 30 to 79. The study found that patients who consumed 180mg or less of folate per day were two times more likely to develop colon cancer compared to patients who ate 270mg of folate or more on a daily basis. The study also found that women who consumed more than 300mg of folate per day were 64 percent less likely to develop colorectal cancer compared to women that consumed 200mg of folate per day or less. In the same study, researchers found that there was no influence of folate intake on men’s colorectal cancer risk. The patients in the study with cancer were more likely to have the cancer because of their family history, because they consume more alcohol, and ten to be smokers. These patients were found to exercise less likely as well.

Folate can be found in green, leafy vegetables and citrus fruits and should be eaten on a daily basis to help avoid the development of colon cancer. Some of the research done in the study suggests that this protective option could vary by the patient’s ethnic background. The findings of this study are vitally important because the findings suggest that colorectal cancer can be decreased simply by modifying the diet of the patient. The body requires folates because they help to form nucleotides, which are the building blocks of DNA and RNA, to copy DNA, and for other genetic functions. If a person has a low intake of folates he or she will be more at risk for genetic mutations that can cause the development of colorectal cancer.

Doctors also recommend changing the rest of your diet if you wish to prevent colon cancer. Other ways to prevent colon cancer is to add vegetables to your diet, eat a low-fat diet, fruits to your diet, add whole grain to your diet and drink green tea regularly because it is high in antioxidants, which can help anyone trying to prevent colon cancer.