Can folic acid supplements increase my risk for prostate cancer?

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Howard E. Lewine, MD
Hospitalist
I am not aware that taking folic acid (or any vitamin supplement) can increase the risk of prostate cancer.

The only nutritional supplement that has been associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer is calcium. Men that take calcium supplements are more likely to consume more daily calcium. And studies have shown a higher rate of advanced prostate cancer in men that consume large amounts of calcium every day.

It's important to note that eating a diet low in calcium does not decrease prostate cancer risk. And getting enough calcium has many important health benefits.

Other foods you eat play a role in prostate cancer risk. Men that eat a lot of red meat and high-fat dairy products (like full fat milk and cheese) appear to have a greater chance of developing prostate cancer.

On the flip side, men that eat lots of fruits and vegetables and only a little red meat and minimal high-fat dairy products may have a lower prostate cancer risk.

Keeping a healthy body weight and exercising regularly appear to decrease the risk of developing the more aggressive and potentially deadly stage of prostate cancer.

Until recently, there was hope that vitamin E and selenium supplements might decrease cancer risk. But a large study failed to show any benefit from either one.
Harvard Medical School 2011 Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

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Harvard Medical School 2011 Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

Prostate disorders usually develop after age 50, but some men experience them at a younger age. The three most common conditions are prostatitis, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), and prostate...
A study performed approximately 4-5 years ago, revealed that high doses of folic acid supplements failed to protect against colon cancer. Additional analysis of the same study suggested a link between folic acid supplements and an increase risk of prostate cancer. Men who took high doses of the vitamin had a greater than twofold increase in prostate cancer risk, compared to those who did not take folic acid supplements.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.