Folic Acid Supplements Reduce Autism Risk



A new study finds that taking folic acid supplements during early pregnancy can reduce the risk of autism by 39 percent.


 

 

FOLIC ACID SUPPLEMENTS REDUCE AUTISM RISK

For reasons that remain unclear at this time, the number of children diagnosed with autism has skyrocketed in recent years.  While many cases of autism appear to be linked to specific genetic abnormalities that can be inherited, or to other factors that are strongly associated with autism, in the majority of cases, no specific causes are apparent. 

One important focus of autism research is in the area of the “prenatal environment,” which is to say, the environment that the developing fetus experiences prior to delivery.  For example, maternal infections with certain viruses during pregnancy have been linked with autism.  In other cases, maternal exposure to specific environmental toxins during pregnancy has also been associated with an increased risk of autism.  Due to growing evidence that the fetal environment during pregnancy may play an important role in the risk of developing autism, there has also been an interest in looking at nutritional factors that may play a role in either the prevention or development of autism during pregnancy. 

Folic acid (Vitamin B9) has previously been shown to play an important role in the development of the brain and spinal cord during early fetal development.  For example, devastating abnormalities in brain and spinal cord development, collectively referred to as neural tube defects, have been specifically linked to inadequate folic acid intake during early pregnancy.  Because folic acid supplementation during early pregnancy reduces the incidence of neural tube defects by almost 50 percent, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has mandated folic acid supplementation of all food products derived from grains and cereals in the United States.  Now, a newly published clinical research study suggests that folic acid supplementation during early pregnancy may also significantly reduce the risk of autism.  This study appears in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In this landmark study, more than 85,000 children born in Norway between 2002 and 2008 took part in the prospective Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study.  These children were closely followed in this study, until March 31, 2012.  The use (or nonuse) of folic acid supplements by the mothers of these children, before and during pregnancy, was then assessed.  The incidence of autism in this very large group of children was then correlated with their mothers’ use (or nonuse) of folic acid during early pregnancy.    

The findings of this study were rather dramatic.  At the end of this study’s observation period, 270 children had been formally diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder, including 114 children with autistic disorder (autism), 56 with Asperger’s syndrome, and 100 with Pervasive Developmental Disorder.  Although the risk of Asperger’s syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder did not appear to vary with respect to folic acid supplementation during early pregnancy, the use of folic acid supplements prior to and during pregnancy was associated with a 39 percent decrease in the risk of autistic disorder (autism), when compared to the children of mothers who did not take folic acids supplements.  (The authors of this study also noted that the statistical power of this study was not strong enough to detect a subtle impact of folic acid supplementation on the risk of Asperger’s syndrome or Pervasive Developmental Disorder, and so a potential mildly beneficial effect of folic acid on the incidence of these two autistic spectrum disorders cannot be ruled out at this time.)

Therefore, the findings of this large prospective clinical research study indicate that the incidence of autism can be significantly reduced by folic acid supplementation just prior to pregnancy, and during pregnancy, just as the incidence of neural tube defects has been reduced using this same strategy.

 

For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.com Top 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.

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Dr. Wascher’s latest video:

Dark as Night, Part 1

Dark as Night, Part 1

Dark as Night, Part 1

At this time, more than 8 percent of Americans are unemployed.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, the unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty between September 2001 and December 2011 is now more than 12 percent.  A new website, Veterans in Healthcare, seeks to connect veterans with potential employers.  If you are a veteran who works in the healthcare field, or if you are an employer who is looking for physicians, advanced practice professionals, nurses, corpsmen/medics, or other healthcare professionals, then please take a look at Veterans in Healthcare. As a retired veteran of the U.S. Army, I would also like to personally urge you to hire a veteran whenever possible.

For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.




Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


 

Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


 

I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  Over the past 12 months, more than 2.5 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious readers.  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 


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Vitamin D May Improve Breast Cancer Survival



A new study links higher Vitamin D levels with improved survival in patients with breast cancer.


 

 

VITAMIN D MAY IMPROVE BREAST CANCER SURVIVAL

As I extensively discuss in my bestselling book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, Vitamin D is the last vitamin left standing tall based upon the findings of recent high quality cancer prevention research studies.  Other than Vitamin D, virtually every other vitamin has been shown, by solid clinical research data, to have little or no favorable impact on cancer risk.  Based upon extensive research, Vitamin D appears to be particularly effective in reducing the risk of cancers of the GI tract, including, especially, colorectal cancer.  When it comes to breast cancer, the clinical research findings for Vitamin D tend to be mixed, with some studies showing a decreased risk of developing breast cancer (and improved survival in patients already diagnosed with breast cancer) associated with higher blood levels of this hormone-like vitamin, while others studies have failed to show that these beneficial effects are associated with increased Vitamin D levels.  Now, a new update from the December 2012 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (the largest annual meeting dedicated exclusively to breast cancer research in the world) strongly suggests that higher Vitamin D levels, when combined with chemotherapy and the bone-strengthening drug zoledronic acid (ZOMETA®), are associated with improved survival in patients with breast cancer.

The ongoing prospective AZURE breast cancer study was not directly designed to evaluate the role of Vitamin D in the treatment of breast cancer, but among the more than 3,000 women who were enrolled in this British study, some received Vitamin D supplements and some did not.  Therefore, a secondary aim of this study was to assess the impact of Vitamin D levels on clinical outcomes in this large group of women with breast cancer.

Out of the 3,360 women who volunteered to participate in the AZURE trial, blood samples of 872 of these women were available; and these blood samples were, therefore, evaluated by measuring Vitamin D levels.  As this study was conducted in the United Kingdom, where sunlight is notoriously scarce, it was not surprising to learn that only 10 percent of the women in this AZURE trial subgroup had blood levels of Vitamin D at or above the “sufficient” level of 30 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL).

The primary aim of the AZURE study was to assess the impact of the bone-strengthening drug zoledronic acid on clinical outcomes in patients previously diagnosed with breast cancer.  As published in the New England Journal of Medicine last year, there appeared to be no significant differences in outcomes between women randomized to receive zoledronic acid and women who received placebo (sugar) pills while undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer.  However, in this new update from the AZURE trial, postmenopausal breast cancer patients who were randomized to receive zoledronic acid and who had blood levels of Vitamin D above 30 ng/mL were 11 percent less likely to develop spread (metastasis) of their breast cancer to their bones when compared to the postmenopausal women who also took zoledronic acid but who also had low Vitamin D levels.  (As breast cancer metastasizes to the bones more commonly than any other site in the body, this apparent Vitamin D-associated 11 percent reduction in bone metastases in postmenopausal patients being treated with chemotherapy and zoledronic acid would be expected to improve survival as well.)

At Cancer Treatment Centers of America, where I work as a Surgical Oncologist, and as the director of our breast cancer program, we routinely measure Vitamin D levels on all patients, and those who are found to be deficient in this important vitamin are routinely placed on Vitamin D supplements.  The updated findings of the AZURE breast cancer trial, as well as similarly positive research findings for other types of cancer, suggest that this approach to monitoring and, when necessary, supplementing Vitamin D levels may be an important adjunct to standard cancer therapies.

 

 

Links to Other Breaking Health News

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Thousands of Surgery Mistakes Are Still Happening Each Year

New Graphic Antismoking Ads Debut in England

Kids with Food Allergies May Become Targets of Bullies

Obesity Among Young Children May Be Declining

Tamoxifen for 10 Years (Instead of 5 Years) Significantly Improves Breast Cancer Survival Rate

Fresh Fruits & Vegetables May Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Satisfaction with Life May Actually Increase with Age

Brain Changes in the Elderly May Increase Susceptibility to Being Scammed

“Talking” Therapy May Help Depression When Antidepressant Medications Fail

New Egg-Free Flu Vaccine

Graphic Cigarette Labels in Australia

Predicting Childhood Obesity at Birth

Inexpensive Power Foods


Dr. Wascher’s latest video:

Dark as Night, Part 1


Dark as Night, Part 1

Dark as Night, Part 1



At this time, more than 8 percent of Americans are unemployed.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, the unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty between September 2001 and December 2011 is now more than 12 percent.  A new website, Veterans in Healthcare, seeks to connect veterans with potential employers.  If you are a veteran who works in the healthcare field, or if you are an employer who is looking for physicians, advanced practice professionals, nurses, corpsmen/medics, or other healthcare professionals, then please take a look at Veterans in Healthcare. As a retired veteran of the U.S. Army, I would also like to personally urge you to hire a veteran whenever possible.


For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.




Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


 

Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


 

I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  Over the past 12 months, 2.3 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious readers.  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 



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Multivitamins and Cancer Risk: Reading Between the Lines





 

A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association claims that a daily multivitamin supplement reduces cancer risk….


 

 

MULTIVITAMINS AND CANCER RISK: READING BETWEEN THE LINES

As I discuss in my book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, recent high-level studies of common vitamins, including antioxidant vitamins, has dimmed the prior enthusiasm that these micronutrients can reduce the risk of cancer, or cardiovascular disease, in otherwise healthy individuals who eat a balanced diet.  Moreover, recent prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical studies have actually suggested that taking supplements of Vitamin E and Vitamin A (including beta-carotene) may actually be harmful to our health, while recent similar studies of Vitamin C supplements have shown neither apparent benefit nor harm.

Despite the almost uniformly discouraging recent research findings regarding most nutritional supplements and their alleged ability to decrease our risk of cancer and other serious illnesses, many people (as well as nutritional supplement manufacturers…) continue to hold out hope that popping a daily vitamin pill, or other nutritional supplement, will protect them from cancer and other dreaded diseases.  (Meanwhile, most people still tend to ignore the evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle and diet practices that I describe in A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, and which have been linked, by hundreds of reputable clinical research studies, with a 40 to 60 percent reduction in cancer risk.)  So, it is not surprising to see the extensive and favorable media coverage that is being given to a newly published clinical study looking at the potential impact of daily multivitamin supplements and cancer risk, and which appears in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The Physicians’ Health Study II is a large, ongoing, prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled study of 14,641 male physicians in the United States.  All of these men were at least 50 years of age when they entered into this public health study (the average age of all study participants when they entered into this study was 64 years of age).  This study has observed health outcomes in this very large group of male physicians for an average of 11 years now, and the study’s authors have now reported on the impact of taking a daily commercial multivitamin supplement upon cancer risk and cancer-associated death rates.

To summarize the findings of this very large public health study, the male physicians in this study were secretly randomized to receive either Centrum Silver (a commercial multivitamin and mineral supplement) or a placebo (sugar) pill.  At the time of their entry into this study, 1,312 of these male volunteers were noted to have a prior personal history of cancer.  Following more than 11 years of observation, 2,669 of these physician volunteers were subsequently confirmed to have developed cancer, including 1,373 cases of prostate cancer and 210 cases of colorectal cancer.  When compared with the men who were randomly (and secretly) assigned to the placebo group, the men who were assigned to the multivitamin supplement group experienced an observed, and modest (8 percent), but still significant, reduction in the risk of being diagnosed with cancer.

While this 8 percent reduction in overall cancer risk has been widely trumpeted by other media sites, it is important to note several significant caveats before you run out to the drugstore and buy a case of Centrum Silver.  When one looks at the statistical analysis of the data that resulted in the claimed 8 percent reduction in cancer risk, one immediately notices that the so-called “confidence interval” for this claim extends to 0.998, which is right up against the limit of 1.0 that would render these findings statistically insignificant.  Therefore, the single, sole positive finding in this study of a modest decrease in overall cancer incidence is, itself, at the very borderline of what most statisticians would consider to be a statistically significant finding.

In addition to the single modest (and only barely statistically significant) positive finding of this study, as I have noted above, there was no significant correlation between multivitamin use and the risk of developing prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, or, indeed, any other individual type of cancer.  The absence of any identifiable decrease in the risk of any individual type of cancer in this study, likewise, further calls into question the validity of this study’s single, and statistically borderline, positive finding of an 8 percent reduction in overall cancer incidence among the group of men who were randomized to receive a daily multivitamin tablet.  Moreover, this study also failed to reveal any detectable reduction in the cancer-associated death rate among the men who received a daily multivitamin tablet.

The rather breathlessly favorable media reaction to this study’s conclusions vividly illustrates how the superficial reporting of seemingly favorable clinical research findings can mislead the public into accepting overblown or invalid conclusions, such as those made by the authors of this particular research study.  As I discuss in A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, most of the published research in the area of cancer prevention research is of relatively low quality in terms of the methods used to conduct such research.  Moreover, as this particular prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled study shows, even clinical studies that actually utilize higher level methodologies still require both a careful and critical analysis of their findings and claims, and the conclusions of such studies should not be simply accepted at face value.  While this multivitamin study makes the very simple and straightforward claim that taking a commercial multivitamin and mineral supplement “significantly” reduces the incidence of cancer (at least among middle-aged and elderly male physicians), even a cursory evaluation of this study’s data and conclusions confirms that there is likely to be little or no overall health benefit, in terms of cancer risk and cancer-related death reduction, associated with taking a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement in otherwise healthy and well-nourished adults.  As the old saying goes, if something seems too good to true, it probably isn’t…..


A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race is now available in both printed and digital formats from all major bookstores.  Get your copy now, and begin living an evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle now!

 

Dr. Wascher’s latest video:

Dark as Night, Part 1

Dark as Night, Part 1

Dark as Night, Part 1



At this time, more than 8 percent of Americans are unemployed.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, the unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty between September 2001 and December 2011 is now more than 12 percent.  A new website, Veterans in Healthcare, seeks to connect veterans with potential employers.  If you are a veteran who works in the healthcare field, or if you are an employer who is looking for physicians, advanced practice professionals, nurses, corpsmen/medics, or other healthcare professionals, then please take a look at Veterans in Healthcare. As a retired veteran of the U.S. Army, I would also like to personally urge you to hire a veteran whenever possible.


For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.




Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


 

Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


 

I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  (More than 1.3 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious people who visited Weekly Health Update in 2011!)  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 




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