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Senior Health Week: Colorectal Cancer
Health News You Can Use •

Colorectal Cancer News:

More Folate, Less Alcohol, May Cut Colon Cancer Risk

Researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute report that women who have a parent or sibling with colon cancer can markedly lower their own risk by taking a daily multivitamin that includes folic acid and limiting their intake of alcohol.

The researchers analyzed information on 88,758 female registered nurses whose family health histories and dietary habits were recorded as part of the Nurses' Health Study, a project which has been tracking the health of nurses in the United States for more than 25 years.

Dr. Charles Fuchs reported in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention that reduced the risk of colon cancer: a diet high in folic acid, high in methionine [an essential amino acid], and low in alcohol intake.

"It appeared that either a high-folate diet or use of folate-containing multivitamins virtually eliminated the excess risk of colon cancer associated with a family history of the disease," Fuchs said.

The level of folate tracked in the study -- 400 micrograms a day -- can be easily achieved by taking a multivitamin, Fuchs said.

The quantity of alcohol consumption that appeared to increase the risk associated with a family history of colon cancer was drinking more than two glasses of wine per day.

Fuchs said the findings around methionine were more complicated, since high amounts also may be associated with the "hardening of the arteries" that can lead to heart attacks. As a result, dieticians do not recommend taking methionine supplements.

While all the study participants were women, Fuchs said there is no reason to think the results do not apply to men.

Source: Colorectal Cancer Week of March 17, 2002





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