mthfr polymorphism

Clinical Nutrigenomic: MTHFR Polymorphism, Folic Acid, Folate, and Cancer Risk

What is Clinical Nutrigenomics?

Clinical nutrigenomics is a field of study that explores the interaction between nutrition, genetics, and health outcomes. It focuses on understanding how genetic variations influence an individual’s response to specific nutrients and how this information can be used to develop personalized nutrition and healthcare strategies. Nutrigenomics combines the principles of nutrition and genomics to investigate how genes and diet interact and impact an individual’s health. It examines how genetic variations can affect nutrient metabolism, nutrient requirements, and the risk of developing certain diseases. In this blog, we will delve into the topic of MTHFR Polymorphism and explore its meaning and significance.

In a clinical setting, nutrigenomics involves the analysis of an individual’s genetic profile to gain insights into their unique genetic variations related to nutrient metabolism. This information can be used to tailor dietary recommendations, identify specific nutritional deficiencies or intolerances, and design personalized interventions to optimize health and prevent disease.

What is an MTHFR Polymorphism?

MTHFR polymorphism is a common genetic variation that can affect how our bodies use folic acid, a nutrient important for healthy growth and development. When we eat food or take supplements containing folic acid, our bodies convert it into a form that can be used by our cells. However, people with MTHFR polymorphism may not be able to do this effectively, which can lead to a buildup of harmful substances in the body.

The relationship between MTHFR polymorphisms and health outcomes is complex and multifaceted, and much remains unknown. However, a growing body of research suggests that these genetic variations may play a role in several different health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, depression, and cancer.

Folic acid vs. Folate:

Folic acid and folate are two forms of vitamin B9. The main difference between them is their source and how the body uses them:

  1. Folic Acid: Folic acid is the synthetic form of vitamin B9 found in fortified foods and supplements. It needs to be converted into an active form by the body before it can be utilized.
  2. Folate: Folate refers to the natural form of vitamin B9 found in foods like leafy greens, legumes, and fruits. It is already in the active form and can be directly used by the body without conversion.

The body can absorb folic acid more efficiently than folate, but some individuals may have difficulty converting folic acid into the active form due to genetic factors.

MTHFR polymorphism and Cancer Risk

One area of particular concern is the relationship between MTHFR polymorphisms and cancer risk. While the evidence is not yet conclusive, some studies suggest that individuals with certain MTHFR genotypes may be at increased risk of developing certain types of cancer, such as colorectal cancer, breast cancer, and leukemia. It is thought that this may be due in part to the role that folate plays in DNA synthesis and repair. When folate levels are inadequate, DNA replication errors can occur, which can lead to mutations and potentially cancerous cell growth.

Studies have suggested that MTHFR polymorphism could increase the risk of certain cancers, especially when combined with high levels of synthetic folic acid intake. Folic acid is added to many foods and dietary supplements as a way of reducing the risk of birth defects. However, in people with MTHFR polymorphism, high levels of folic acid may actually be harmful.

It is important to note, however, that the relationship between MTHFR polymorphisms, folate, and cancer risk is still not fully understood. More research is needed to determine the precise mechanisms by which these factors interact, as well as to establish clear guidelines for clinical care. In the meantime, individuals with MTHFR polymorphisms should exercise caution when supplementing with folic acid and should speak with their healthcare providers about the best strategies for maintaining adequate folate levels.

What to do?

Overall, the relationship between MTHFR polymorphisms and health outcomes is complex and multifaceted. While much remains unknown, emerging research suggests that these genetic variations may play a significant role in several different health conditions, including cancer. Consulting with a healthcare professional can provide personalized guidance on folic acid and folate intake based on individual needs.

At CORR, a medical provider will take a comprehensive history, lab analysis, and genetic testing for preventive medicine and disease treatment recommendations. Our facilities house many alternative and complementary therapies to help improve health outcomes. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please feel free to contact us.