B-vitamin beating kids’ cancer

A Canadian research team has shown that folic acid food fortification has resulted in a 60% reduction in neuroblastoma, a deadly childhood cancer.

“Our research indicates that this is the first pediatric cancer that can be prevented through maternal diet,” said Dr Gideon Koren, director of the Hospital for Sick Children’s Motherisk Program. “The role of folic acid in preventing neural tube defects such as spina bifida was already known. This study also suggests a link between folic acid and neuroblastoma.”

Neuroblastoma is the most prevalent solid tumour that occurs outside of the brain in children under the age of five, affecting one in every 6,000 to 7,000 children in North America. Its aggressive nature also makes it the most common cause of cancer-related death among children under four.

Researchers looked at the incidence of neuroblastoma in Ontario, using data from before and after folic acid food fortification in 1997. Folic acid supplements are also routinely recommended for women of childbearing age.

“We will also look at whether folic acid has an impact on neuroblastoma after the cancer has already developed,” said Dr Koren.

Source: University of Toronto, Sept 25, 2003