Based on current evidence, the benefits of folic acid fortification for reducing the incidence of neural tube defects outweigh any potential increased risk of cancer.
Folate is a water soluble B-vitamin present naturally in foods such as wholemeal bread, legumes, green leafy vegetables (for example broccoli, lettuce and cabbage) and liver that is essential for biochemical and physiological processes in the body.
Mandatory folic acid fortification of wheat flour for bread making purposes commenced in Australia from September 2009 to reduce the incidence of neural tube defects.
There is probable evidence that foods containing folate reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer and limited suggestive evidence that they reduce the risk of oesophageal and bowel cancer. Cohort studies suggest that a high dietary folate intake may reduce the risk of post-menopausal breast cancer, particularly for women with a family history of breast cancer.
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