Folic acid as a cancer-preventing agent

Med Hypotheses. 1995 Sep;45(3):297-303. doi: 10.1016/0306-9877(95)90121-3.


Higher intakes of folic acid-rich foods such as vegetables, legumes, and whole grains are associated with lower incidence of carcinomas in international comparisons and case-control studies. Deficiency of folic acid in experimental studies causes DNA damage that resembles the DNA damage seen in cancer cells. The requirement for folic acid in DNA synthesis and DNA methylation provides a plausible mechanism for a mutagenic effect of a low-folate diet. It is suggested that cancer can be initiated by DNA damage that results from folic acid deficiency. The relatively low level of folic acid in North American diets might be the underlying reason for high rates of many cancers in North America.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chromosome Fragility
  • Cocarcinogenesis
  • DNA / metabolism
  • DNA Damage
  • Diet
  • Folic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Folic Acid Deficiency / complications
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / etiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Rats
  • Vegetables


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • DNA
  • Folic Acid