As scientists continue to unravel the genetics of cancer, other researchers are also discovering ways of using these information in preventing or slowing down cancer.
Take for example lung cancer. Studies have identified a high number of genetic mutations in the lungs of smokers. Furthermore, the carcinogens that cause their mutations vary depending on the cigarettes, their ingredients and how they are manufactured.
But knowing the genetic mechanisms of cancer is not enough. Steven Belinsky of the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute in New Mexico and his colleagues studied more than 1000 current and former smokers and report possible ways of slowing down lung cancer even if not being able to beat it completely. And it is something that you can do all by yourself through lifestyle change. The answer lies in your diet. The research results indicate that genetic changes that lead to lung cancer is less severe among those who ate leafy green vegetables , multivitamins and foods rich with folate.
According to Dr. Belinsky:
The researchers identified sputum samples of smokers eight genes which are commonly “silenced” in lung cancer patients and strongly associated with risk for this disease.
Folate is a vitamin commonly associated with pregnancy to prevent fetal defects such as spina bifida. However, everybody needs folate. According to World’ Healthiest Food, folate
- Supports red blood cell production and help prevent anemia
- Helps prevent homocysteine build-up in your blood
- Supports cell production, especially in your skin
- Allows nerves to function properly
- Helps prevent osteoporosis-related bone fractures
- Helps prevent dementias including Alzheimer’s
So what are foods that are rich in folate?
Table 1: Selected Food Sources of Folate and Folic Acid
|Food||Micrograms (μg)||% DV^|
|*Breakfast cereals fortified with 100% of the DV, ¾ cup||400||100|
|Beef liver, cooked, braised, 3 ounces||185||45|
|Cowpeas (blackeyes), immature, cooked, boiled, ½ cup||105||25|
|*Breakfast cereals, fortified with 25% of the DV, ¾ cup||100||25|
|Spinach, frozen, cooked, boiled, ½ cup||100||25|
|Great Northern beans, boiled, ½ cup||90||20|
|Asparagus, boiled, 4 spears||85||20|
|*Rice, white, long-grain, parboiled, enriched, cooked, ½ cup||65||15|
|Vegetarian baked beans, canned, 1 cup||60||15|
|Spinach, raw, 1 cup||60||15|
|Green peas, frozen, boiled, ½ cup||50||15|
|Broccoli, chopped, frozen, cooked, ½ cup||50||15|
|*Egg noodles, cooked, enriched, ½ cup||50||15|
|Broccoli, raw, 2 spears (each 5 inches long)||45||10|
|Avocado, raw, all varieties, sliced, ½ cup sliced||45||10|
|Peanuts, all types, dry roasted, 1 ounce||40||10|
|Lettuce, Romaine, shredded, ½ cup||40||10|
|Wheat germ, crude, 2 Tablespoons||40||10|
|Tomato Juice, canned, 6 ounces||35||10|
|Orange juice, chilled, includes concentrate, ¾ cup||35||10|
|Turnip greens, frozen, cooked, boiled, ½ cup||30||8|
|Orange, all commercial varieties, fresh, 1 small||30||8|
|*Bread, white, 1 slice||25||6|
|*Bread, whole wheat, 1 slice||25||6|
|Egg, whole, raw, fresh, 1 large||25||6|
|Cantaloupe, raw, ¼ medium||25||6|
|Papaya, raw, ½ cup cubes||25||6|
|Banana, raw, 1 medium||20||6|
How much folate do we need?
Table 2: Recommended Dietary Allowances for Folate for Children and Adults 
|Males and Females
*1 DFE = 1 μg food folate = 0.6 μg folic acid from supplements and fortified foods
Folate from natural sources is not linked to any health risks. However, folate supplements in the form of folic acid can be toxic if taken in large amounts.
According to ODS:
Intake of supplemental folic acid should not exceed 1,000 micrograms (μg) per day to prevent folic acid from triggering symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency . Folic acid supplements can correct the anemia associated with vitamin B12 deficiency. Unfortunately, folic acid will not correct changes in the nervous system that result from vitamin B12 deficiency. Permanent nerve damage can occur if vitamin B12 deficiency is not treated.
It is very important for older adults to be aware of the relationship between folic acid and vitamin B12 because they are at greater risk of having a vitamin B12 deficiency. If you are 50 years of age or older, ask your physician to check your B12 status before you take a supplement that contains folic acid. If you are taking a supplement containing folic acid, read the label to make sure it also contains B12 or speak with a physician about the need for a B12 supplement.