How You Can Dramatically Cut Risk of Mouth Cancer with Diet – And Increase It

November 23, 2010 by  
Filed under Health, Mens Health, Womens Health

Mouth cancer is one of the fastest growing cancers in the UK, and is the cause of more deaths than cervical cancer and testicular cancer combined with one death from it every five hours. I have previously highlighted the risks of mouth cancer and now there is news of a specific preventive that works extremely well in helping us avoid mouth cancer and points out exactly what to avoid. For the first time, folic acid intake has been shown to affect the risk of the disease and an unhealthy diet means a threefold increase in risk.

This new information comes from a study of 87,000 nurses who were followed for 30 years from 1976 by researchers from the Columbia University Medical Centre and Harvard School of Public Health. What they found was that women who consume high volumes of folic acid found in Vitamin B from vegetables and some fruits are much less likely to suffer from mouth cancer.

You will find high levels of folic acid in spinach, beetroot, potato, Brussels sprouts, sweet potato, broccoli, cabbage, asparagus, banana, oranges and peaches.

What to avoid:
The researchers also discovered that women who drank a high volume of alcohol and had low folic acid intake were three times more likely to develop mouth cancer than those who drank high volumes of alcohol but had high volumes of folic acid in their diet. Alcohol is one of the major risk factors for mouth cancer and those who drink to excess are four times more likely to be diagnosed. Alcohol leads to a reduction in folic acid metabolism by creating acetaldehyde which leads to a reduction of folic acid in the body.

As social habits have changed, so women have been drinking more and the rates of mouth cancer in women have been increasing for many years. It is also be linked to the fact that we are consuming less fresh fruit and vegetables than previous generations.

Previous studies have tended to focus on men, as they are twice as likely to suffer from the disease, but this new information also applies to them.

Recent research has also shown that an increase in food such as eggs and fish that contain Omega 3, and nuts, seeds and brown rice, which are high in fibre, can help decrease the risks. Also brushing twice a day and flossing are key ingredients in oral health and help keep your risk factor down. With its low survival rate, it is critical to pay attention to prevention as only around half of diagnosed cases survive for 5 years.

What to look for:
The Mouth Cancer Action Month Campaign aims to increase awareness and reverse this trend with the theme ‘If in doubt get checked out’. Early warning signs to look out for include a mouth ulcer that has not healed within three weeks, red or white patches in the mouth and any unusual swelling or lumps in the mouth. These are all signs that you should get your dentist or doctor to check you out as soon as possible.

Mouth cancer is twice more common in men than in women, though an increasing number of women are being diagnosed with the disease. Previously, the disease has been five times more common in men than women. Age is another factor, with people over the age of 40 more likely to be diagnosed, though more young people are now being affected than previously.

The two biggest risk factors are alcohol, gum disease and tobacco and if you both smoke and drink alcohol in excess you are up to 30 times more likely to be diagnosed with mouth cancer.

For more information visit or call the Dental Helpline, which offers free impartial advice to consumers on 0845 063 1188 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Folic acid may help treat allergies and asthma


This is the season when allergies can begin to make themselves felt and among natural remedies available, including bee pollen, there is now new evidence that folic acid, or vitamin B9, may also suppress allergic reactions and lessen the severity of allergy and asthma symptoms. The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, carried out at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in the US, and reported in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology.

The link between blood levels of folate – the naturally occurring form of folic acid — and allergies adds to increased evidence that folate can help regulate inflammation which is at the root of allergic reactions. This research showed that people with the lowest folate levels had a 30 percent higher risk of developing allergies and a 31 percent higher risk of allergic symptoms than people with the highest folate levels. On the asthma front, there was a 16 percent higher risk of having asthma in those with the lowest folate levels.

Asthma affects more than 5 million adults and children in the UK, and is the most common chronic condition among children. Environmental allergies have an even wider reach so anything that helps strengthen your system to resist them has to be worth considering, particularly if you are already suffering from allergies.

The researchers say it’s too soon to start recommending folic acid supplements to prevent or treat people with asthma and allergies, but you could check how many of the folic-deficiency symptoms you have from this list:

* Irritability
* Mental fatigue, forgetfulness, or confusion
* Depression
* Insomnia
* General or muscular fatigue
* Gingivitis or periodontal disease

Adult men and women (except during pregnancy) are recommended to have 400 micrograms of folate a day and many cereals and grain products are already fortified with it so you may be getting enough. If you think you might be deficient then you might want to increase, or add, excellent food sources such as broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, spinach, green peas, avocado, banana, lentils and nuts.

Folic acid can boost birth weight for healthier babies

April 18, 2009 by  
Filed under Vitamins & Supplements, Womens Health


I mentioned a few weeks ago the benefits of Omega-3 for premature babies and now there is further help to boost your baby’s birth weight by over 60 grams – and this is very good news for their long-term health. The British Journal of Nutrition has reported that supplementing the mother’s diet with of 400 micrograms of folic acid during the pregnancy is important for two reasons:

The prime reason is that babies with a low birth weight (defined as less than 5lb 8oz) have an increased risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, ADD and depression later in life and sadly their number is increasing. Secondly, being underweight indicates that they have not had their maximum growth potential in the womb as this is dependent on their receiving the correct balance of nutrients during the pregnancy and folic acid has an essential role to play in the normal production of protein, lipids and DNA. Taking the supplement while already pregnant was seen to result in a 40 per cent lower risk of having a child with low birth weight and in fact was even more marked in women having their second child as when they supplemented before conception they saw a 240g higher birth weight compared with first time mothers who didn’t take folic acid at all.

It is recommended in the UK that women take a 400 microgram folic acid supplement daily from the time of conception to the 12th week of pregnancy, in order to cut the rate of neural tube defects such as spina bifida. This is in addition to the 200 micrograms of folate that should be obtained from a healthy diet from sources like brown rice, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, peas, and – interestingly – low calorie beer. Unfortunately, it seems that more than 90 per cent of women looking to start a family don’t have anywhere near this amount and so potentially are putting their children’s’ future health at risk.

Birth defects – How men can help

Women are encouraged in pregnancy to have a reasonably high intake of folic acid as it is known to help prevent neural tube birth defects, but now an important groundbreaking study shows that a father’s intake of the nutrient might also be just as important.

Men with a high intake of folic acid are significantly less likely to produce sperm with the chromosomal abnormalities that can lead to birth defects.

Researchers from the University of California at Berkeley analyzed sperm from 89 healthy, non-smoking men for a condition called aneuploidy, in which a sperm cell carries the wrong number of chromosomes. While in most cases, aneuploidy leads to either a failure to conceive or to miscarriage, sometimes the foetus can be carried to full term where conditions such as Down’s, Klinefelter’s or Turner’s syndrome (sexual chromosome abnormalities) occur.

Men who want to make the best contribution to having a healthy child should start making changes at least 3 months before they want to start a family as it takes that time to produce sperm. Although you can take folic acid supplements, a good place to start would be to make sure you are a non-smoker, and include plenty of folic acid rich foods such as liver, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, peas and brussel sprouts.

Depression in men could be reduced by 50%

There have been several studies linking folic acid (folate) intake specifically, and all the B vitamin group generally, to improved mood. Folate is a water-soluble B vitamin that occurs naturally in food and studies done by scientists at the University of York and Hull York Medical School reported that low levels of it in the body were linked to increased depression overall, but now a new study has made a specific link to depression in men

Researchers from the International Medical Centre of Japan, and the National Institute of Health and Nutrition, undertook a study involving 500 Japanese subjects. Of these, 36% of the men and 37% of the women were found to have symptoms of depression on starting the study. What they found was that the men with the highest average intake (235 micrograms per 100 kcal) of folate were 50% less likely to have depressive symptoms than men with the lowest average intake (119 micrograms per 100 kcal). They also found that increased levels of folic acid did not mean less depression in the women subjects, only in the men.

While it is clear that increased folate intake will help men, either from a dietary supplement or food such as dark leafy greens like spinach, citrus fruit and dried beans and peas, and because of it’s importance in pregnancy, you will find many foods such as breakfast cereals fortified with added folic acid, so check the labels.

It is important for both men and women’s health that there is a good supply of the entire B-complex vitamins in the diet, not just folic acid alone as they work together synergistically to provide the best ‘mood’ protection. If your diet contains dairy, whole grains, omega 3 and 6 oils and lean meats then you are probably getting a good variety. If in doubt, take a good B complex supplement from a reputable source.