A study recently published in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment suggests that eating foods rich with folic acid– such as spinach, asparagus, lentils, garbanzo beans, orange juice and lima beans– can help reduce risk of death from breast cancer and increase the odds of survival.
The study, which was led by Holly R. Harris of the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, showed that women whose intake of dietary folic acid or commonly known as folate in the highest quartile were 22 percent less likely to die from breast cancer five years post-diagnosis compared to those whose intake was in the lowest quartile.
The researchers speculated that folate may have an effect on the development and progression of breast cancer through its role in one-carbon metabolism. The study was intended to reveal whether folate intake was correlated with survival in 3116 women diagnosed with breast cancer enrolled in the Swedish Mammography Cohort.
The researchers found dietary folate intake was inversely associated with breast cancer and overall mortality. The protective effect was found strongest among those whose breast cancers were ER-negative, that is, the highest intake of folate was correlated with 58 percent reduced risk of death from the disease.
The researchers stated, “Our findings suggest that folate intake before breast cancer diagnosis may improve breast cancer and overall survival. However, these results may be limited to populations with low intake of folate.”