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Study reveals downside to important nutrient

April 24, 2008

2 Min Read
Study reveals downside to important nutrient

Study reveals downside to important nutrient

New data from researchers at Tufts University shows that while folic acid, a B vitamin added to most grain-based foods, saves more than 1,000 American and Canadian babies each year from neural-tube birth defects, the nutrient may be contributing to an increase in colon cancer. The study, published in the July issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, shows that since the advent of folic-acid fortification, there have been an estimated 15,000 more people diagnosed with colon cancer in the United States per year, and an additional 1,500 in Canada. The connection between folic acid and cancer has "a pretty robust degree of biologic plausibility," said Joel Mason, lead author of the study, in a statement.

Opt for organic for better breast milk

While the benefits of breast milk for babies' health have been widely researched and reported, a new study finds that lactating mothers can help their children even more by opting for organic dairy and meat products over conventional. The study, published in the April issue of the British Journal of Nutrition, found that breast milk of mothers whose consumption of dairy and meat products was at least 90 percent organic had breast milk containing higher levels of important fatty acids than those who consumed conventional products. "These findings provide scientific support for common sense, by showing that organic foods are healthier," said the study's lead author Lucas Rist, head of research at Paracelsus Hospital in Switzerland, in a statement.

The environmental cost of conventional meat

According to a recent study from the Tsukuba, Japan-based National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science, producing just 2.2 pounds of beef emits more greenhouse gas than burning a 100-watt light bulb for nearly 20 days. The study, published in the August issue of Animal Science Journal, reported that most of the emissions are in the form of methane released from the animals' digestive systems, and more than two-thirds of the energy cost comes from producing and transporting the animals' feed. According to a Swedish study in 2003, producing organic beef emits 40 percent less greenhouse gas than conventional beef and uses 85 percent less energy due to grass feed.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVIII/number 9/p. 74

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