A diet rich in folate can counter the risk of breast cancer caused by drinking alcohol, new research says.
The Australian study, published online in the British Medical Journal, followed 17,447 Melbourne women from 1990 to the end of 2003, by which time 537 had developed breast cancer.
The researchers found no link between breast cancer and folate consumption.
But a diet rich in folate appears to mitigate the breast cancer risk associated with alcohol, Professor Graham Giles of Cancer Council Victoria and team reports.
“Women who had high alcohol consumption and low intake of folate had an increased risk of breast cancer, but those women who had high alcohol consumption and moderate to high levels of folate intake had no increased risk,” he writes.
Folate is a B vitamin found in a range of foods including liver, spinach, asparagus, broccoli, avocado and some fortified bread and breakfast cereal.
More than a hundred foods in Australia have been approved for fortification with folate since 1995 because of its role in preventing neural tube defects.
Some studies have also suggested it has a protective effect against Colon cancer.
Revision date: June 14, 2011
Last revised: by Janet A. Staessen, MD, PhD