Unmetabolized Folic Acid in Prediagnostic Plasma and the Risk for Colorectal Cancer

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Higher folate has been associated with a reduced colorectal cancer (CRC) risk, but excessive folate may promote tumor progression. The role of unmetabolized folic acid (UFA) from high folic acid consumption in carcinogenesis is largely unexplored. We evaluated prediagnostic plasma levels of UFA in relation to CRC risk in nested case-control studies (618 CRC case patients and 1207 matched control) with blood samples collected prior to folic acid fortification. UFA was detected in 21.4% of control UFA levels were not associated with CRC risk. Compared with undetectable levels, the multivariable relative risks (RRs) of CRC were 1.03 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.73 to 1.46) for less than 0.5 nmol/L and 1.12 (95% CI = 0.81 to 1.55) for 0.5 nmol/L or more (Ptrend = .32). A positive association between UFA levels and CRC risk was observed among men (RR = 1.57, 95% CI = 0.99 to 2.49 for ≥0.5 nmol/L vs undetectable, Pinteraction = .04), and a positive association was also observed among those with the methylene-tetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) CT/TT genotype (RR = 2.20, 95% CI = 1.22 to 3.94 for ≥0.5 nmol/L vs undetectable, Pinteraction=0.02). In conclusion, prediagnostic plasma levels of UFA from the prefortification period were not associated with risk of CRC.

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