Folate status among patients with non-small cell lung cancer: a case-control study

J Surg Oncol. 2001 Aug;77(4):247-52. doi: 10.1002/jso.1104.


Background and objectives: This case control study explored the purported inverse relationship between folate status and lung cancer development.

Methods: Folate status of 46 postoperative non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients was compared to that of 44 non-cancer patients. Cancer patients had completed treatment > 3 months prior and had no evidence of cancer. Ineligibility criteria for all patients included (1) > 2 alcoholic drinks/day (2) ongoing tobacco use, or (3) folate supplementation > 400 microg/day.

Results: No differences were found between groups in serum and RBC folate after adjustment for age and use of folate-interfering medications: geometric means (GM) x /geometric standard error (GSE): 7.9 ng/ml x /1.1 vs. 7.8 ng/ml x /1.1, respectively (P = 0.91) for serum folate; 264 ng/ml x /1.1 vs. 263 ng/ml x /1.1, respectively (P = 0.97) for RBC folate. Age- and creatinine-adjusted homocysteine was no different between groups: GM x /GSE: 9.4 micromol/L x /1.0 vs. 8.6 micromol/L x /1.0, respectively (P = 0.17). No difference were seen in folate intake. Frequencies of the homozygous genotype for the MTHFR polymorphism, an enzyme important in folate metabolism and associated with a reduced risk of other cancers, were no different.

Conclusions: This case control study does not support the hypothesis that low folate is an independent risk factor for NSCLC.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / blood*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / blood*
  • Homocystine / blood
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / blood*
  • Male
  • Postoperative Period
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking


  • Homocystine
  • Folic Acid