The Role of Folate, Choline, and Methionine in Carcinogenesis Induced by Methyl-Deficient Diets

  • Susanne M. Henning
  • Marian E. Swendseid
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 399)


In humans, deficiencies of choline and methionine are not likely to occur except for an occasional methyl deficiency as evidenced by low plasma choline levels and development of fatty livers in some patients given longterm parenteral nutrition (Burt et al. 1980, Tayek et al. 1990 and Buchman et al. 1991). However, folate deficiency is a problem in many population subgroups such as pregnant women, adolescents, elderly people (Sauberlich 1990 and Joosten et al. 1993), and alcoholics (Shaw et al. 1989). The participation of folate in methionine regeneration and other methyl transfers links folate metabolism closely to methyl metabolism (Krumdieck, 1991). In rats a deficiency of choline and methionine and its effect on hepatocellular carcinoma in the absence of carcinogens has been studied extensively. However study of possible involvement of folate deficency in carcinogenesis mediated through alterations in methyl metabolism has been somewhat neglected. Recent reports indicating an increased risk of cancer and precancerous lesions of various types in humans associated with low folate intakes or low red blood cell folate levels increase the relevance of such investigations (Giovannucci, E. et al. 1993, Butterworth, C.E. et al. 1992).


Folate Deficiency PARP Activity Choline Deficient Nontumorous Liver Tissue Methyl Metabolism 
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© Plenum Press, New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susanne M. Henning
    • 1
  • Marian E. Swendseid
  1. 1.Division of Community Health SciencesUCLA, School of Public HealthPhiladelphiaUSA

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