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JAMA Publishes Flawed Studies Linking Folic Acid and Vitamin B12 to Cancer

The Natural Products Association (NPA) and the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) have both voiced outrage over the publication of “Cancer Incidence and Mortality after Treatment with Folic Acid and Vitamin B12” in the 11/19/09 issue of JAMA. The leading researcher on this study, Dr. Marta Ebbing of Norway, is quoted as saying, “Folic acid fortification and supplementation may not necessarily be as safe as previously assumed.
In response, Andrew Shao, Ph.D., vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at CRN, declared: “The real headline of this study should be that smoking increases the risk of lung cancer…” . Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., NPA’s vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs, said: “[T]wo flawed studies are combined to yield one larger flawed study. This does not seem to be in the best interest of medical science or public health”.
Among the numerous flaws in the research are:

  • Both of the trials in this study were designed to assess the effects of folic acid and B12 on cardiovascular disease, not on cancer.
  • Between 2001 and 2005, as people started taking folic acid, the United States actually saw a decrease in cases of cancer. According to CRN, “It is inappropriate to reach firm conclusions based on such limited data, especially in the face of vast evidence showing benefit for folic acid supplementation.”
  • Most of the subjects in both trials were taking beta-blockers and statins; some were taking ACE inhibitors and diuretics. The study fails to analyze how these combinations of drugs relate to the risk of cancer.
  • Design flaws caused one of the two trials to be terminated early.
  • The factorial design of the other trial may have been too complex.
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13 thoughts on “JAMA Publishes Flawed Studies Linking Folic Acid and Vitamin B12 to Cancer

  • This is not the first time that JAMA has published flawed studies. Recently a researcher (and author) who is a consultant to Monsanto, GlaxoSmithKline, and the processed food company Unilever, who sells GM food co-authored a paper on the benefits of omega 3 oils from GM-soy beans. However JAMA painted a very different picture and we can expect to see the franken-omega 3’s being used to ‘fortify’ processed foods within the next 3 months.
    Read more here:

  • I am Russian, have been born and grown up in the village on naturally ripe food grown without any chemicals then move to UK in my 40th. I do consider myself as a very lucky person as I lived and live in 2 completely different systems. The system in Russia still allow public use herbal medicine, call honey a medicine, doctor will freely advice patient to combine orthodox medicine with herbal or advice to replace some pharmaceutical drug with herbal as properties almost the same but herbal is cheap and no side effect. Chemist shops shelves loaded with all sorts of herbal remedies and people not restricted to treat, being treated, share and advice any herbal medicine or all sorts of sounds strange but very effective home made remedies recipes of which passed from grannies or gran grandmothers. This is the real freedom seems Russians don’t have on American media publication but in reality complete freedom that given by government to public to keep themselves as healthy as possible. As I do say healthy nation is asset of the country, but hidden mafia of Europe and America who occupied the white house misleads own nations about democracy and freedom but constantly lie and cheat. I have written book Russian Health Revealed dealing with publishing company now where i ask people to be own doctor and scientist, nobody would know about your body better than you do, and all very simple within wise and complicated human system. No to any vaccine, no to any pharmaceutical drug and those days are gone when you could trust pharmaceutical companies. All scientists I divided to dependent and independent and all I would like to ask you to do is organize association contrary to Monsanto involving independent scientists to put together facts and go to court to fight that there should be honesty and fair announcement that whatever comes from mother nature should go into the label-health. Unite people who still familiar with real taste of the food, close to nature and have complete full functioning mindset to understand that we are becoming victims of minority who want to owe us, lead us and decide for us what we should do or not. There is no single evidence that anyone died from using natures herbal medicine but thousands die from pharmaceutical and we still just talking about it. Why not act instead of talk?

  • Andrew Arnett

    Why are the studies being called “flawed?” There is nothing flawed about them. They are intentionally manufactured studies to help demote the effectiveness of natural supplements. “Big Pharma” and the entire modern medical establishment as a whole has a vested interest in people being sick. They will do anything to influence ‘joe public’ from taking vitamins even if it means brain washing through the creation of bogus studies. The individuals that take part in this type of propaganda machine are of the most diabolical on the planet. I urge everyone out there to take with a grain of salt any “study” released by the drug industry, the AMA, the ADA, the CDC or any other medical establishment. While many of the people who work for these establishments have good intentions, the leaders of these establishments are criminals and shoudl be treated as such! So go on taking your vitamins and see your doctor sparingly. “You know what they say about hospitals–they’re no place to be sick”

    • tyrone

      Thank you Andrew for the comment. We concur with your assessment of the drug industry influence and therefore, the study is ‘flawed’ in that the design of the study is wholly impartial. Transparency is a key objective for ANH-USA and to know the identity of the party funding a study is valuable information for consumers.

  • Janis Bell NMD

    It might have been a flawed study, but we have to admit that there are risks. Folic acid must be reduced twice to be bioavailable, and this reduction takes place in the gut. Individuals with GI issues can have high serum folic acid and low active folates. Others with genetic polymorphisms need to take active folates. Perhaps there are more of these individuals than previously realized, and the combination of folic acid supplementation of foods with multivitamins and other nutritional supplements could be raising serum folic acid to unhealthy levels in many individuals. We have to find ways to sort out who will benefit and who is at risk before giving everyone supplements that are not naturally occurring molecules.

  • Ronald N. Roy

    Doctors, reaserch scientist, medical journals are for the most part bought and paid for by drug companies and any so called studies should be ignored. The best advise I can give is when your sick, if you do, go to a doctor listen to everything he has to say the go home and do the exact opposite and you’ll be ok.

  • pat rains

    I believe this scientist is too late, as it has been widely known that B12 and folic acid supplementation is neceassary for good health. Deficiencies of these supplements are known to cause birth defects, as well as other health problems.
    This scientist knows the benefits of these supplements, but has an agenda, possibly colloborating with FDA or a drug company which are one and the same.

  • Kirk Taylor

    More good (rigged) science from the FDA and the drug companies who own and operate it.
    Monsanto probably has a publication out on how to rig and influence a study to achieve your most cherished goals. Who needs facts, when cash is liberally applied.

  • Vitamin b12 and Folic acid pump up our immune system and making new stem cell so I think it improves our energy level also.and it is so easy to get it from just fresh fruits and vegetables.Need much more information and awareness about folic acid and b12

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