The question of folic acid fortification an issue that has been growing in the medical literature as it relates to risk of colon and breast cancer.
Unfortunately, as with most problems dealing with physiology, the ones who will ultimately be making recommendations (mainstream medicine and the mainstream media) will likely not have the background to fully understand the issue.
Folic acid (as well as the vitamins B12, B6, SAM-e and betaine) play a role in a process called methylation. Methylation does many things, one of which is adding a “tag” onto DNA to allow the right DNA to be expressed at the right time. In other words, this process makes sure that “liver” cells do not do “brain” stuff.
Sounds good, but there are certain genes that silence other genes (called tumor suppressor genes). If you suppress the suppressor of tumor growth, you can create a problem! Sound complicated? Then factor in the MTHFR genetic factor, and not enough folic acid will cause DNA damage to occur!
Which brings us to this particular article. In it, researchers looked at folic acid levels in the bloodstream and a woman’s risk of breast cancer based on estrogne receptor status. They found that women with the higher levels of folate acid in their blood had a 267% higher risk of estrogen receptor beta negative ERβ−) breast cancer.
So is folic acid good or bad for us?
First, supplementation aside, we should NOT be getting or folic acid from fortified breads and cereals, because these are refined and very bad for us. Second, a healthy overall lifestyle will avoid cancer growth regardless of folic acid status. Third, we should all try to find out what our MTHFR gene is so we know whether more or less folic acid is good for us. Most labs can now easily run this testing in a normal blood sample.