According to a recent article published in British Medical Journal (BMJ), dietary folate may protect against the effect of alcohol in the risk of developing breast cancer.
Since breast cancer is such a commonly diagnosed malignancy in the United States (over 200,000 women annually), methods to prevent the disease from occurring altogether is an area of intense research. Results from previous studies have indicated that women who consume large amounts of alcohol on a regular basis are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer. Now, however, it appears that dietary folate may protect against the increased risk induced by alcohol consumption.
Researchers from Australia recently conducted a study including nearly 17,500 women to evaluate the relationship between dietary folate (found in highest concentrations in vegetables) and its effects on alcohol consumption and the risk of breast cancer. Women participating were aged 40 to 69 years; 537 eventually were diagnosed with breast cancer. Overall, women who consumed 40 grams of alcohol (roughly two glasses of wine) or more daily had a significantly increased risk of breast cancer compared to women who consumed no alcohol. There was no direct association found between dietary folate consumption and the risk of breast cancer; however, a high folate intake (400 micrograms per day) lessened the increased risk of breast cancer among women with an alcohol intake of over 40 grams per day.
The researchers concluded that folate consumption of at least 400 micrograms per day may protect against the increased risk of breast cancer that is associated with a high alcohol intake among women. Women who consume alcohol may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of folate supplementation.
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Reference: Baglietto L, English D, Gertig D, Hopper J, Giles G. Does dietary folate intake modify effect of alcohol consumption on breast cancer risk? Prospective cohort study. BMJ. Available at: Click Here. Accessed August 2005.
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