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Increased dietary choline may help reduce breast cancer risk

An article published online on January 29, 2008 in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) journal reported the finding of research funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) that having a greater intake of the B vitamin choline is associated with a reduction in the risk of breast cancer. The article is scheduled for publication in the journal’s June 1 print issue.

Jia Chen and associates compared dietary intake data from 1508 women with breast cancer to 1556 women without the disease. The researchers focused on the intake of betaine (TMG), methionine, and choline, which is an essential nutrient that occurs in eggs, wheat germ and other foods. The nutrients are among those involved in methylation, which plays a role in the development of cancer.

Women whose intake of choline was in the highest one-fifth of participants, at 455 milligrams per day or more, had a 24 percent lower risk of breast cancer than women whose intake was in the lowest fifth at 196 milligrams or less. Coffee, eggs, and skim milk were the most common sources of choline consumed by women in the study. The researchers also noted that two variations in choline-metabolizing genes were related to breast cancer risk.

Only 10 percent of Americans are estimated to meet the Institute of Medicine’s adequate choline intake level of 425 milligrams per day for women and 550 milligrams per day for men and breastfeeding women. “Choline is needed for the normal functioning of cells, no matter your age or gender,” observed study coauthor Steven H. Zeisel, MD, PhD, of the University of North Carolina. “Increasing evidence shows that it may be particularly important for women, particularly those of child-bearing age.”

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