Effects of moderate alcohol consumption on folate and vitamin B12 status in postmenopausal women

E. M. Laufer, T. J. Hartman, D. J. Baer, E. W. Gunter, J. F. Dorgan, W. S. Campbell, B. A. Clevidence, E. D. Brown, D. Albanes, J. T. Judd, P. R. Taylor

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39 Scopus citations


Background: Although alcohol intake has been positively associated with breast cancer risk in epidemiologic studies, a causal relationship has not been established, and the mechanisms mediating this association are speculative. Alcohol may act through altered status of folate and vitamin B12, two vitamins required for DNA methylation and nucleotide synthesis, and thus cell integrity. Although the effects of heavy alcohol intake on folate and vitamin B12 status have been well-documented, few studies have addressed the effects of moderate alcohol intake in a controlled setting. Objective: The objective of this study was to determine the effects of moderate alcohol intake on folate and vitamin B12 status in healthy, well-nourished, postmenopausal women. Design: The study design was a randomized, diet-controlled crossover intervention. Postmenopausal women (n=53) received three 8-week alcohol treatments in random order: 0, 15, and 30 g/day. Treatment periods were preceded by 2-5-week washout periods. Blood collected at baseline and week 8 of each treatment period was analyzed for serum folate, vitamin B12, homocysteine (HCY), and methylmalonic acid (MMA) concentrations. esults: After adjusting for body mass index (BMI), a significant 5% decrease was observed in mean serum vitamin B12 concentrations from 0 to 30 g of alcohol/day (461.45 ± 30.26 vs 440.25 ± 30.24 pg/ml; P=0.03). Mean serum HCY concentrations tended to increase by 3% from 0 to 30 g of alcohol/day (9.44 ± 0.37 vs 9.73 ± 0.37 μmol/l; P=0.05). Alcohol intake had no significant effects on serum folate or MMA concentrations. Conclusions: Among healthy, well-nourished, postmenopausal women, moderate alcohol intake may diminish vitamin B12 status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1518-1524
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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