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01.12.2014 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2014 Open Access

World Journal of Surgical Oncology 1/2014

Red blood cell folate as a risk factor for breast cancer among patients at a tertiary hospital in Uganda: a case control study

World Journal of Surgical Oncology > Ausgabe 1/2014
Gideon Rukundo, Moses Galukande, Peter Ongom, Jane Odubu Fualal
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​1477-7819-12-260) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

MG and GR originated concept. GR collected data. MG made first draft. All authors performed critical reviews for intellectual content and approved the final manuscript.



Folate has been shown to play a complex but unclear role in carcinogenesis, with some studies showing that low folate intake protects against early carcinogenesis while high folate intake promotes advanced carcinogenesis. Other studies have shown that high folate is associated with decreased breast cancer risk and overall survival, yet others found no such association.
This study therefore sought to determine the association between red blood folate levels and breast cancer among women seen at a tertiary Ugandan hospital.


A case control study was conducted where female patients with a histological diagnosis of breast cancer were recruited as cases, and females without cancer attending other surgical clinics as controls. Demographics and social behavior data were collected and 5mls of blood drawn for laboratory testing of red blood cell (RBC) folate, serum vitamin B12 and RBC count. Ethical approval was obtained.


In this study, a total of 145 women were recruited as 72 cases and 73 controls. The odds of having breast cancer among women with normal folate levels compared to those with low folate levels were 1.4 (95% CI 0.7 to 2.9) P = 0.290. Ninety participants (63%) had low RBC folate and 53 participants (37%) had normal RBC folate. Thirty five (45%) of the women from a rural setting had normal folate levels compared to 18(28%) women from an urban setting.


There was no significant association found between RBC folate and breast cancer among this group of women in Uganda.
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