Effects of Folic Acid Fortification on Childhood Cancers
Folic Acid Fortification brings about childhood cancer prevention?
Results of epidemiological study reveal lower incidence trend of some of the malignancies of childhood after the US folic acid fortification.
The study, “Childhood Cancer Incidence Trends in Association With US Folic Acid Fortification (1986–2008)” by Kimberly J. Johnson, PhD, assistant professor at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis, and Amy Linabery, PhD, postdoctoral fellow at the University of Minnesota; has been cited in Pediatrics,
May 21, 2012.
Till date, this is believed to be the largest study to show that Folic acid fortification may also lower the incidence of certain types of childhood cancer.
The results of a Canadian study published last year (2011), also supports the lower incidence trend of Wilm’s tumour on supplementation of high doses of Folic acid to women of child bearing age and through the pregnancy .
Yet another study done by Amy E. French et al and published in Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics (2003) 74, showed that
Folic acid food fortification is associated with 60 percent reduction in incidence of neuroblastoma, the most common extracranial solid tumor in children.
Once it was confirmed that Folic Acid consumption by women in their child bearing age, significantly reduces the occurrences of neural tube defects, in 1998, the US Food and Drug Administration had enforced Folic Acid fortification of many foods.
Kimberly J. Johnson et al have systematically analysed the epidemiologic trend of childhood cancer in the population after fortification of enriched grain products with folic acid in the United States.
The data used in the study was collected by National Cancer Institute since 1973.
From 1986 through 2008, 8829 children aged 0 to 4 years were diagnosed with malignancies, including 3790 and 3299 in utero during the pre- and post fortification periods, respectively.
During the post fortification phase,only Wilm’s tumor, primitive neuroectodermal tumours and ependymomas showed significantly lower trends in the incidence.
The same trend was not demonstrated by other types of childhood cancers, nor was their any indication towards rising trend in the incidence of any type of childhood cancer.
The noted change in the trend of prevalence of Wilm’s tumor, primitive neuroectodermal tumours and ependymomas coincides more accurately with 1992, the year of recommendation of high does of Folic acid supplements for all women in their child bearing age.
Folic Acid belongs to the group of B vitamins. It plays a key role in the formation of normal new cells. Therefore, fortification of foods with Folic Acid has aroused concerns for its possible harmful effects, such as causing new cancers or pre-cancerous lesions.
"Here, we are showing that folic acid fortification does not appear to be increasing rates of childhood cancers, which is a good news," said Kimberly J. Johnson.