Does Folic Acid Prevent Leukemia?

Last Editorial Review: 1/11/2018

Ask the experts

Is it true that there may be connection between leukemia and folic acid and that folic acid might possibly prevent leukemia?

Doctor's response

Genetic mutations (changes) in an enzyme that metabolizes (processes) folic acid appear possibly to protect adults from acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). This is according to research reported and discussed in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (References: Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 1999;96:12216-12218,12810-12815).

About a third of the population carries at least one of the "protective" mutations. The two thirds of the population who do not have one of these "protective" mutations may, it has been suggested, benefit from an adequate intake of folic acid to protect themselves against the occurrence of adult ALL. However, there is no evidence that folic acid would afford any protection against other forms of leukemia such as acute myeloid leukemia (AML) or chronic myeloid leukemia (CML).


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