Skip to content

The #1 Worst Eating Habit Increasing Your Risk of Cancer, New Research Suggests

Does your diet include enough of this vitamin?
FACT CHECKED BY Kristen Warfield

The next time you're sitting down to do your meal planning for the week, you might want to make sure that the food on your list offers plenty of folate (vitamin B9) and other kinds of vitamin B.

While both can help keep you feeling healthier and younger, new data has found that not getting enough folate and vitamins in the B group can lead to issues that are connected to cancer.

"A deficit of certain nutrients is one of the nutritional factors that are involved in the initiation phase, including folate and B group vitamins (B12, B6, B3), which leads to chromosomal ruptures, DNA hypomethylation, and increased sensitivity to mutagens," according to Pedro Carrera Bastos, a doctoral candidate and researcher in nutrition, metabolism, and inflammation at Lund University, Sweden, who addressed the findings during his "Diet and Habits in the Prevention of Carcinogenesis" presentation which took place as part of the 7th International Congress of the Spanish Society of Precision Health.

Folate foods
Shutterstock

Related: The #1 Best Juice to Drink Every Day, Says Science 

"Folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 play an essential role in methionine synthesis and DNA methylation. When DNA methylation is altered, there is a higher chance of gene mutations and DNA damage, which could eventually lead to cancer," Blair Persyn, MS, RDN, LDN, CNSC, registered dietitian and owner of Bites With Blair, LLC, tells Eat This, Not That!.

Indeed, Blair explains that "because of its role in DNA methylation, folate deficiency has been associated with increased risk of cancer." At the same time, "some studies have also found a link between excess folic acid and increased cancer risk."

That's why Blair says that it's important "to make sure we are including folate-rich foods in our diet without going overboard by supplementing above the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance)."

To ensure that you're doing just that, Blair notes that "men and women 19 and older should aim to get 400 mcg DFE (Dietary Folate Equivalents), pregnant women should aim to get 600 mcg DFE, and lactating women should aim to get 500 mcg DFE."

"Some of my favorite plant-based sources of B vitamins are legumes, leafy greens, nutritional yeast, whole grains, nuts, and seeds," Blair says. "We can ensure we are getting enough B vitamins by eating a balanced diet with a variety of different foods."

To find out more about getting the nutrients you need to stay healthy, be sure to read The 9 Most Essential Vitamins You Need in Your Diet, According to Yale Experts.

Desirée O
Desirée O is a freelance writer who covers lifestyle, food, and nutrition news among other topics. Read more
Filed Under