Benefits of Folic Acid on Heart Lacking

OXFORD, England, Oct. 12 (UPI) — Folic acid appears to lower homocysteine — thought to be a heart risk factor — but it doesn’t appear linked to fewer heart events, British researchers say.

Robert Clarke of the University of Oxford in England and colleagues say those taking folic acid supplement were no less likely to die nor to suffer a stroke, heart attack or new cancer than those taking a placebo.

The lack of benefits from the amino acid was disappointing, Clarke says.

Clarke and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis involving eight trials completed by 2009 with a total of 37,485 participants — 18,723 assigned to take folic acid in daily doses ranging from 0.8 milligrams to 40 milligrams and 18,762 taking a placebo. Among the participants, 9,326 had a major vascular event during the study period, 3,010 developed cancer and 5,125 died.

There was about a 25 percent reduction in homocysteine levels linked to folic acid supplementation, but those who took folic acid — 4,670, or 24.9 percent — had a first vascular event, while 4,656, or 24.8 percent had a first event from the placebo group.

“The doses of folic acid used in all the trials included in this meta-analysis exceeded those required for near-maximal reduction in homocysteine levels,” the authors say in a statement. “The randomized trials in the present meta-analysis found no evidence of benefit with treatment continued for more than five years.”

The findings are published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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