No one likes to think about the possibility of getting colon or rectal cancer. Most of us just hope this disease will pass us by. But the American Cancer Society says that almost 150,000 people will be diagnosed with colon cancer in 2011. So here’s some health advice: boost your intake of folate.
Folate is a vitamin often associated with pregnancy and the prevention of birth defects, but it has many other important jobs as well — one of which is cancer prevention. According to researchers at the National Cancer Institute in Rockville, MD, people who eat plenty of folate have a lower risk of colorectal cancers.
The research team used data from a diet survey started in 1995, which included more than 500,000 middle-aged and older U.S. adults. At the start of the study, participants filled out a questionnaire about their normal eating habits and any supplements they took regularly. The researchers then calculated how much folate they got on a typical day.
For the next 10 years, they kept track of the number of colorectal cancer cases that were diagnosed in the participants. In total, 7,200 cases were originally reported, including about 6,500 that were diagnosed after the start of the folate fortification program, which was initiated in the U.S. in 1998.
The research team found that people who ate the highest amount of folate each day (at least 900 micrograms post-fortification) were 30% less likely to get colorectal cancer than those who got less than 200 micrograms each day.
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for folate is 400 micrograms for most adults and 600 micrograms for pregnant women. As a result of fortification, the average person’s folate intake through foods increased by about 100 micrograms. Of course, follow your doctor’s advice about the proper RDA for folate for your particular circumstances. You can also keep your folate intake up by adding these six foods to your diet:
5. Brewer’s yeast
6. Brown rice