I am trying to get pregnant and someone has recommended that I take a folic acid supplement. But I have heard that folic acid is now added to bread. Is there any danger that I could take in too much?

I am trying to get pregnant and someone has recommended that I take a folic acid supplement. But I have heard that folic acid is now added to bread. Is there any danger that I could take in too much?

If you are trying to get pregnant, you should be taking a folic acid supplement of 400 micrograms a day, and you should continue until the 12th week of pregnancy. A committee of scientific experts has advised the Government that all flour should be fortified with folic acid, but the recommendation has not yet been accepted. Having a good level of folic acid can reduce the chance of having a baby with spina bifida by nearly 50 per cent. For some older people, there may be a small risk from taking too much folic acid, but for young women who are trying for a pregnancy, the benefits far outweigh the risks.

Last autumn, I had a burning sensation in my groin and penis, accompanied by frequent urination. The GP carried out a rectal examination of my prostate and said he thought it was prostatitis. He referred me to a urologist who did a further rectal examination and confirmed the original diagnosis. I have had two lots of different antibiotics, which seem to have cleared things up. I was surprised that a PSA test for prostate cancer had not been done. Although I am reassured that two doctors believe I am not suffering from anything more severe than prostate inflammation, I do think a PSA test would have been a wise precaution. What do you think?

There is a lot of controversy about the PSA blood test. Although it can pick up prostate cancer at an early stage, it is not completely reliable. It is possible to have cancer even though the test is normal, or to have a raised blood test without having cancer. I would advise against a blood test until your prostatitis is completely cured, because any inflammation of the prostate can cause the PSA test to be abnormal. Rectal examinations can also cause the PSA level to go up. For further information, have a look at the patient information leaflet on the PSA test from the NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (www.york. ac.uk/inst/crd/em22b.htm).

Please send your questions to A Question of Health, 'The Independent', Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS; fax 020-7005 2182 or e-mail to health@ independent. co.uk. Dr Kavalier regrets that he is unable to respond personally to questions

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