BOSTON–Heavy alcohol consumption and a low folate intake may increase women's risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer, according to a 16-year study of 83,929 women conducted by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health.
Generally, heavy drinkers who consume more than 30 g/d of alcohol and whose total folate intake is less than 180 mcg/d had the highest risk–36 percent higher than women who abstained from alcohol and consumed 400 mcg/d to 599 mcg/d of folate. However, researchers also concluded that the increased risk of major chronic disease associated with heavy drinking was largely diminished among women with a higher folate intake.
Folate, or folic acid, is needed to make DNA and RNA, and is necessary in the production of new cells. It also helps prevent changes to DNA that may lead to cancer. Alcohol interferes with folate metabolism, thus giving heavy drinkers a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease and cancer. This positive association between heavy alcohol consumption and low folate intake in relation to women's risk of major chronic disease was most apparent among women younger than 60 years of age.
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of folate for women over 19 years of age is 400 mcg/d. According to researchers, adequate folate intake may be important in the primary prevention of overall major chronic disease in women, especially among younger women consuming more than two alcoholic drinks per day.
The Harvard study was printed in the October issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology (158, 8:760-71, 2003) (aje.oupjournals.org).
Source: Natural Products Industry Insider.