Folic acid supplements may prevent cancer progression and promote regression of disease, according to a new study published in the July 15, 2006 issue of CANCER (a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society).
The small study found that 31 of 43 patients with the precancerous laryngeal lesion called leucoplakia demonstrated 50 percent or greater reduction in the lesion size after six months of taking folate supplements. In 12 of 31 responders, there was no evidence of the original lesion.
The investigators enrolled 43 patients with untreated laryngeal leucoplakia and treated them with folic acid (5mg three times a day) and evaluated the progression of leucoplakia every 30 days for six months.
Over six months of treatment, 12 patients (28 percent) had complete resolution of their leucoplakia lesions; 19 patients (44 percent) had reduction of 50 percent or more in the size of their lesions and 12 patients (28 percent) had no response. Mean folate levels increased and mean homocysteine levels decreased significantly. There were no moderate or severe adverse events reported.
Folate deficiency is the most common vitamin deficiency in the United States. Folate is incorporated into coenzymes that are essential in facilitating a variety of reactions in nucleic acid and amino acids metabolism. Some of which are critical to healthy life, such as DNA synthesis, DNA repair, and converting homocysteine to methionine. The latter is particularly important because excess homocysteine is linked to chronic health problems, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Reference article "Pilot Phase IIA Study for Evaluation of the Efficacy of Folic Acid in the Treatment of Laryngeal Leucoplakia," Giovanni Almadori, Francesco Bussu, Pierluigi Navarra, Jacopo Galli, Gaetano Paludetti, Bruno Giardina, Maurizio Maurizi, CANCER; Published Online: June 12, 2006 (DOI: 10.1002/cncr.22003); Print Issue Date: July 15, 2006.