Cut Breast Cancer Risk
Breast cancer continues to be the most common cancer in women. Diet has
been shown to affect a woman's risk of developing breast cancer. For
example, fiber from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and omega-3 fats
from fish have been found to decrease risk, while saturated fat and alcohol
In the case of alcohol, some research has suggested that it changes the way
the body handles estrogens particularly synthetic estrogens used in hormone
therapy-increasing estrogen's cancer-causing effects. Other research has
suggested that alcohol robs the body of folic acid (a B vitamin that is
sometimes referred to as folate) and leaves it more susceptible to cancer.
The new report, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition,
was drawn from a large study known as "Diet, Cancer, and Health." In the
sub study, 24,697 cancer-free, postmenopausal women between ages 50 and 64
filled out a detailed questionnaire and then were followed for three to
seven years, depending on when they entered the study.
The researchers measured women's alcohol and folic acid intake and compared
the results of those who developed breast cancer with those who did not.
Higher alcohol was only associated with increased breast cancer risk in the
women who got less than 300 mcg of folic acid per day. For these women,
drinking on average 10 grams of alcohol (the amount found in slightly more
than one glass of wine) per day increased their risk of breast cancer by
The recommended daily intake of folic acid for adults is 400 mcg. In the
current study, alcohol's negative effect on breast cancer risk was seen in
women who were getting 75% of this amount. The researchers noted that "only
a modest reduction in folate status appears to be necessary for the
enhancement of carcinogenesis in association with alcohol intake."
Good sources of folic acid include leafy green vegetables, legumes (such as
beans), nuts, and whole grains, but folic acid can be destroyed by many
kinds of processing, including cooking. Eating raw salads made from dark
greens is a good way to add folic acid to the diet, and most multivitamins
contain the full recommended daily amount.
Healthnotes Newswire (May 18, 2006)-New research suggests that women who do not get enough folic acid should avoid alcohol, as that combination puts them more at risk for breast cancer.
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