[Uncertain effects of folic acid on disorders other than neural-tube defects].Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 2006 Jul 01; 150(26):1439-42.NT
Periconceptional supplemention with folic acid prevents neural-tube defects in infants. However, contrary to expectations, clinical trials found no beneficial effect of folic acid on the recurrence of cardiovascular disease. Trial evidence on folic acid and cognitive decline or dementia is scarce, though observational studies suggest that high folate intake may prevent these disorders. In contrast, animal studies suggest that high doses of folic acid enhance the growth of existing tumours. However, recent clinical trials failed to show significant effects of folic acid on cancer incidence and mortality. There are also speculations that folic-acid fortification may increase the number of newborns with the thermolabile variant of methylene tetrahydrofolate reductase. There appears to be little evidence that folic-acid supplementation may mask vitamin-B12 deficiency. In view of these controversies, it is unlikely that The Netherlands will mandate folic-acid fortification of staple foods in the near future. Therefore, women who are planning a pregnancy should be urged to take folic-acid supplements.