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Take Folate to Negate the Alcohol/Breast Cancer Risk

Thursday, November 26, 2009 by: Cindie Leonard
Tags: folate, breast cancer, health news

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(NewsTarget) The holidays are upon us. Along with connecting with our family and friends for feasts and fun, this season offers increased opportunities for sharing a festive toast. (Or two.) The good news is that recent research suggests that moderate drinking reduces the risk of heart disease. As heart disease will kill more women over the age of 65 than all cancers combined, this sort of news is easy to swallow (well, "sip.") Yet, there is bad news: Even moderate drinking increases the risk of breast cancer in some women. Protect your heart, protect your breasts...what`s a girl to do? A possible hedge against the alcohol/breast cancer connection may be supplementing your diet with adequate folate.

A promising study reported in the March 5, 2003 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reported that adding more vitamin B, namely folate, B12, and B6 may lower the added risk of getting breast cancer if you drink.

"A direct association between alcohol and breast cancer has been demonstrated in numerous studies. Studies have also shown that folate appears to help reduce the heightened risk of breast cancer associated with moderate alcohol consumption. But researchers say little is known about the precise relationship between folate levels in the body and breast cancer risk."

In an interesting 12-year study examining women`s diets and alcohol consumption, a surprising correlation was discovered regarding blood folate levels and the incidence of breast cancer. The principal author of the study, Thomas A. Sellers, PhD, MPH, reports: "The results of this study suggest that adequate intakes of folate may reduce or eliminate risks of breast cancer associated with consumption of alcohol."

Heather Feigelson, PhD states: "It is important to note that folate alone is not associated with risk of breast cancer, but only in diminishing the effect of alcohol intake on breast cancer risk."

Folate is a form of folic acid found naturally in orange juice, fortified grains, and leafy green vegetables.

The hypothesis behind the link between drinking and a higher risk of breast cancer is that alcohol affects estrogen metabolism, namely by raising it. High estrogen levels are a well-known risk for breast cancer.

In addition to maintaining adequate folate levels, it also might be wise to add mushrooms to your diet. A substance found in mushrooms called linoleic acid may be the key to the reduced risk of breast cancer. Linoleic acid inhibits aromatase activity. Aromatase is an enzyme that helps the body produce estrogen. As many breast cancers depend upon estrogen to grow, the aromatase-inhibiting actions of mushrooms may be responsible for the reduced risk.

So, if you choose to imbibe, perhaps it would be prudent to dine on folate-rich foods, take vitamin B supplements, and indulge in your favorite mushroom recipe before the party begins. Cheers!

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About the author

Cindie Leonard has a Master's degree in Psychology and specializes in research (namely psychoneuroimmunology), enjoys savoring time with family and friends, spoiling her pets, travel, beaches, cavorting around San Diego, volunteering at Torrey Pines State Reserve, and working on perfecting the art of "il dolce far niente." http://www.cindieleonard.com

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