Statistics of colorectal cancer and deaths from the disease are alarming. According to a news release by McGill University, 20,000 cases of colorectal cancer have been reported in Canada and 8,500 deaths from the disease are expected every year. In the US, it is 140,000 cases and 55,000 deaths, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cancer Research UK, puts the numbers at 34,900 cases and 16,000 deaths.
However, here is some good news!
A new study suggests that taking folate supplements can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer in humans. The study is based on research in mice. Researchers fed two groups of mice to see how folate affects the risk of colorectal cancer. While one group was fed a diet low in folate, the second, was on a control diet with sufficient folate.
'None of the mice, fed a control diet, developed tumours; whereas, 1 in 4 mice on the folate-deficient diet developed at least one tumour.' says Dr. Rima Rozen, Scientific Director of the Montreal Children's Hospital, Deputy Scientific Director of the McGill University Health Centre, and lead investigator in the study.
It was found that low intake of folate affects genes that help repair DNA damage, thus raising the risk of the development of tumours. Earlier studies by Dr. Rozen's team and other researchers also suggest that intake of folate-rich diet helps prevent heart disease too.
Folate, added into processed foods, helps prevent birth defects such as Spina Bifida.
This brings into question what a folate-rich diet should include?
A folate-rich diet should include cowpeas, spinach, asparagus, vegetarian baked beans, green peas, broccoli, avocado, peanuts, wheat germ, tomato juice, turnip greens, orange, cantaloupe, papaya and banana.