Folate-rich vegetables may prevent breast cancer

Folate - epigenetic benefits with breast cancer
A 2012 study published in American Journal of Epidemiology suggests that eating folate rich vegetables may help reduce breast cancer risk.


Martha Shrubsole from Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center, Division of Epidemiology and colleagues conducted the study and found premenopausal women in the highest quintile of folate or folic acid intake were 48 percent less likely to develop breast cancer, compared to those in the lowest quintile.


For the study, researchers analysed data on incidence of breast cancer and intake of nutrients including methionine, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, niacin and riboflavin from participants including 718 Chinese breast cancer patients who were enrolled between 1997 and 2008 in a prospective cohort Shanghai Women’s Health Study.


No association was found between dietary intakes of methionine and B vitamins and risk of breast cancer in post-menopausal women but amongst pre-menopausal women, higher intake of folate was linked to decreased risk..


1. The highest intake of niacin, however, was associated with 62 percent increased risk of ER+/PR+ breast cancer, compared to those who had the lowest intake of niacin.


2. But although folate from vegetables won’t cause any side effects no matter how big its intake is, high intake of fortified folate may do more harm than good.


However, a second study, this time published in Revista Medica de Chile, suggests an increased folate intake may be beneficial in deficient populations, but may increase risk of breast cancer in those who would otherwise have sufficient folate, without food fortification.


The Role of folate with Homocysteine

High blood levels of homocysteine are linked to increased risk of both Alzheimer’s and cancer. Homocysteine is know to be capable of damaging the methyl bonds that lock histones to your DNA. If a shift occurs in the histone location, genes may be blocked from normal expression.
Folate is known to be important in accurate DNA replication, and has also been shown to reduce homocysteine levels. In this way it may well have its positive effect with breast cancer risk. The science of epigenetics has shown that histone bond changes and methylation changes are reversible.


October - December Cancer Watch 2012
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