December 30, 2011, 1:51 pm
Should we avoid cereals and bread enriched with folic acid? Swedish researchers concluded that synthetic folic acid increase the risk to grow cancerous tumors. According to a Swedish study presented already in 2007 folic acid can activate dormant cancer cells. In US authorities require addition of folic acid in flour, cereals etc. So far, no European country has introduced mandatory fortification of folic acid. But all of this is meaningless as the global food companies do whatever they want, regardless of the research.
What is Folic Acid?
Folate and folic acid (vitamin B9) derive their names from the Latin word folium (which means “leaf”). Leafy vegetables are the principal source. It is called folate in its natural form. Folic acid is the synthetic form. This vitamin is important for cell division and growth, which can be a very bad thing if you have cancer.
In 1996, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published regulations requiring the addition of folic acid to enriched breads, cereals, flours, corn meals, pastas, rice, and other grain products. This regulation took effect on January 1, 1998, and was specifically targeted to reduce the risk of birth defects in newborns.
Following United States the Swedish National Food Administration (NFA) planned to implement similar regulations in Sweden. When I heard about these plans on the TV news I was horrified. On the Internet I found that the decision was not made and that the NFA was studying the effects. Finally in 2007 the NFA presented a study which suggested that folic acid increased risk of developing cancer. NFA concluded that the risks outweighed the benefits. Instead of forcing folic acid on the whole population the NFA initiated campaigns to educate women about the necessity of folates in diet in order to prevent birth defects.
Countries with Mandatory Fortification
In the US, mandatory fortification of grain products with folic acid was introduced in 1998. In Canada, there has been mandatory fortification of white flour and pasta since 1998, and, in Chile, mandatory fortification of flour since 2000. In September 2009, Australia introduced mandatory fortification of flour for bread-making, see http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumerinformation/fortification/
UK and Europe
So far, no European countries have introduced mandatory fortification with folic acid. Initiated by the Swedish NFA study UK reversed their pro decision (from 2007) in 2009. See http://www.eatwell.gov.uk/healthissues/factsbehindissues/folicacid/
World-wide manufacturers do add folic acid and many other synthetic vitamins to food like cereals and flour. Fortified food is on all shelves in grocery stores. Just look at the packages. I find it disturbing that our governments do not trust our ability to make decisions on our own. They take responsibility to ensure that minimum dietary requirements are met from us. And they do not care to protect people living with cancer. Is folic acid good for us?