Prepared Foods August 23, 2005, enewsletter

Eating enough folate might protect women against the increased risk of breast cancer thought to flow from alcohol consumption, Australian research suggests.

Alcohol is a known risk factor for breast cancer, although how is not understood. Some previous studies also have suggested that folate -- also known as folic acid or vitamin B9 -- reduces the risk of breast cancer, particularly in heavy drinkers, suggesting it interacts with alcohol.

A study of 17,447 Melbourne women, published online by the British Medical Journal, compared details on diet and drinking habits with their breast cancer status between 1990 and 2003. No direct link was found between eating folate -- in leafy vegetables such as spinach, beans and peas, and fortified cereals -- and breast cancer risk, but a high folate intake appeared to lower the excess risk associated with alcohol.

The authors, from the Cancer Council Victoria and the University of Melbourne, said women with high alcohol consumption and low intake of folate had an increased risk of breast cancer, but women who had high alcohol consumption and moderate to high levels of folate intake had no increased risk.

Source: The Australian