Dietary folate intake, alcohol, and risk of breast cancer in a prospective study of postmenopausal women

Thomas A. Sellers, Lawrence H. Kushi, James R. Cerhan, Robert A. Vierkant, Susan M. Gapstur, Celine M. Vachon, Janet E. Olson, Terry M. Therneau, Aaron R. Folsom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

194 Scopus citations


Low B-vitamin intake may increase risk of breast cancer through decreased DNA repair capacity. Alcohol intake increases risk for breast cancer, with evidence from prospective studies of an interaction between alcohol and folate. We explored dietary intake of folate and other B vitamins with risk of breast cancer in a cohort study of 34,387 postmenopausal women. To measure diet, we mailed a food frequency questionnaire; we estimated nutrient intakes and categorized them into four levels: <10th, 11th-30th, 31st-50th, and >50th percentiles. Through 12 years of follow-up, we identified 1,586 cases of breast cancer in the cohort at risk. We estimated relative risks (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) through Cox regression models adjusted for age, energy, and other risk factors. Women in the lowest 10th percentile of folate intake from diet alone were at modestly increased risk of breast cancer relative to those above the 50th percentile: RR = 1.21 (95% CI = 0.91-1.61). We examined the joint association of folate intake and alcohol use on risk of breast cancer, with the reference group defined as women with high folate (>50th percentile) and no alcohol use. The RRs of breast cancer associated with low dietary folate intake were 1.08 (95% CI = 0.78-1.49) among nondrinkers, 1.33 (95% CI = 0.86-2.05) among drinkers of ≤4 gm per day, and 1.59 (95% CI = 1.05-2.41) among drinkers of >4 gm per day. These results suggest that the risks of postmenopausal breast cancer may be increased among women with low intakes of folate if they consume alcohol-containing beverages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)420-428
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001


  • Alcohol
  • Breast neoplasms
  • Cohort study
  • Folate
  • Risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


Dive into the research topics of 'Dietary folate intake, alcohol, and risk of breast cancer in a prospective study of postmenopausal women'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this