An article appearing in the March 3 2004 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute has found a lower risk of ovarian cancer among women with a higher dietary intake of the B vitamin folate, especially if they consumed more than two alcoholic drinks per week.
The researchers obtained their data from the Swedish Mammography cohort, a trial of 61,084 women between the ages of 38 and 76. The participants, who were free of cancer at the beginning of the study, completed food-frequency questionnaires from which the intake of folate and other nutrients intake was calculated.
From March 1987 through June 2003 there were 266 cases of invasive epithelial ovarian cancer diagnosed among the trial participants. Overall, a weak inverse association was found between dietary folate intake and ovarian cancer risk, however, this inverse association was significantly stronger among women who consumed more than two drinks per week. Women who drank more than 20 grams of alcohol per week who were in the top one fourth of folate consumption had a 74 percent lower risk of developing ovarian cancer than those in the lowest one fourth. This inverse relationship was even stronger for women who consumed over 40 grams of alcohol per week, yet no association between alcohol consumption and ovarian cancer risk was found.
In their discussion of a possible protective mechanism for folate in drinkers, the authors of the study suggest that alcohol may interefere with folate metabolism and increase the minimal amount needed for adequate intake. Previous studies have found an interaction between folate and alcohol intake in breast and colorectal cancers. A deficiency of folate reduces the regeneration of S-adenosylmethionine which plays a role in the methylation of DNA, that when lost, could promote cancer.
Source: www.lef.org (Life Extension Foundation).