Folate: effects on carcinogenesis and the potential for cancer chemoprevention

Oncology (Williston Park). 1996 Nov;10(11):1727-36, 1742-3; discussion 1743-4.


A provocative array of observations from both laboratory and clinical investigations indicates that alterations in folate status modulate the process of neoplastic transformation in selected epithelial tissues. Diminished folate status appears to promote carcinogenesis. Considerably more speculative is the concept that supraphysiologic folate status may afford some protection against cancer. Although observations to this effect support such a relationship in the uterine cervix, lung, stomach, and esophagus, present evidence clearly is most compelling for the colorectum. This article reviews these observations, particularly as they apply to the colorectum, and outlines some of the possible mechanisms by which these effects may be exerted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Chemoprevention* / methods
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / etiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / metabolism
  • Folic Acid / pharmacology
  • Folic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Folic Acid Deficiency / complications*
  • Humans
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / etiology
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / physiopathology


  • Folic Acid