Sunday, November 1, 2009

Folate and Colon Cancer

(pictured: organic purple broccoli from the market this morning)

I am a little behind in my food and nutrition reading so I didn’t see this abstract of an article from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition until today. According to a recent study colon cancer survivors that eat a diet high in folate have a 39% risk reduction of the cancer recurring. The same thing was not found of those that took folic acid supplements. Folic acid supplements may be linked to an increased risk of colon cancer. I thought you might want to know which foods are high in folate, because I knew I did.

Foods that are naturally high in folate include:

White beans
Red kidney beans
Soy beans
Wheat germ
Turnip greens
Brussels sprouts
Lima beans, dry and cooked
Sunflower seeds

Prior studies have shown that women with low levels of folate are more likely to develop cervical cancer. A low level of folate is also associated with an increased risk of lung cancer.

I don’t know about you but since folate seems to protect people against colon, cervical and lung cancer I don’t think it is a stretch to think it protects us against other forms of cancer. This makes me happy to know we eat the foods that are high in folate everyday.


  1. hi Alicia,that really got me, the part about supplements not having the same effect of foods rich in folate. there is a little produce shop opening here on thur, half of the store will be organic, i cant wait...that was off subject a little (well, a lot)but i cant wait to eat more pestify free foods

  2. I had read about this not too long ago, another reason to get nutrition from food rather than supplements. I could easily eat my weight in asparagus! I love all the foods that are high in folate except lima beans.
    I posted my awards and there is something there for you. I appreciate your encouragement so much, as well as all of the knowledge you share here on your blog!

  3. Janet,

    I don't like pills in general so I am more than happy to eat my nutrition. Lima beans are even okay with us, so we eat all the high folate foods.

    I was just at your blog and you made me a little weepy. Thank you so much for your kindness and the award.


  4. Michelle,

    I had posted a reply to you but it didn't take for some odd reason.

    Since I am not a scientist I don't know for certain why supplements don't seem to be effective in many situations but I have a few theories. They all revolve around science not capturing all the phytonutrients in the natural food, and using man made formulations. I think it is always better to get your nutrition from food when you can. There are a few exceptions like vitamin D for those of us north of Georgia, and vitamin B12 for vegans. Beyond that I don't take anything other than a standard multivitamin as insurance.


  5. There's a good resource on --> click on Free Reports in the right column; it's a guide to choosing supplements and gives details as to why a lot of nutrtional supplements don't have the desired affect and how poorly compounded supplements can actually do damage.

  6. Rose,

    Thanks so much for sharing that with everyone! I will definitely check it out. I always want to learn more about this topic.


  7. sorry, I meant the left column :)

  8. Thank you for sharing such helpful info, Alicia. There are only 4 foods from this list that I've never tried before and I will give them a try very soon; bulgur, okra, turnip greens, and lima beans. I only take multi-vitamin and fish oil, my doctor said I should make sure I take 1000 mg of vitamin D a day.

  9. Oraphan,

    We take vitamin D because of where we live and the fact that we wear sunscreen. Vitamin D is the "new hot button" that doctors are screening for. I had a long talk with our internist on this a couple of weeks ago. He told me that no one is certain what blood levels of vitamin D should be because they haven't been following it long enough to be certain. Some studies have shown that low levels of vitamin D is associated with more colds as well as some forms of cancer.


  10. wonderful post! thank you for sharing it:) i am a chickpea fanatic and glad to see it on the list:)

  11. Comfrey Cottages,

    Thanks for the comment and congratulations on your award from Janet at Meatless Mama.


  12. i am so honored! i must get busy and award it on!

  13. Comfrey,

    I found it to be as much fun, and maybe more, to pass the award on as it was to receive. It has a similar feel to giving presents at Christmas.


  14. Alicia,

    Nice find. Cervical, colon, and lung cancers (excluding mesothelioma) are cancers of epithelial cells. Phytonutrients are particularly powerful against these cancers. They may even be able to help as part of cancer treatment, not just prevention. The reason supplements don't work is due to the micronutrients that you can't get in a multivitamins - flavonoids, phenolic acids, phytoestrogens, etc. Also, as you frequently write about, the synergy between certain nutrients helps with absorption.

    I have been making my way through (slowly) journal papers on the relationship between phytonutrients and cancer. I can send you some pdf's if you're interested.


  15. Matt,

    Thanks for the update to my post. I am always wary to say that something will treat cancer since it is theoretical, although I do believe it to be true. It only makes sense that if something can prevent cancer it can also help treat it.

    I would love to see those pdf's. Thank you so much for offering! You made my afternoon. :) My email is on my profile page. And thank you again. I REALLY appreciate it.


  16. hatani,

    You are welcome. Thank you for letting me know you find the information useful.



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