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Nutr Cancer. 2004;49(1):94-9.

Inhibition of the rat breast cytosolic bioactivation of ethanol to acetaldehyde by some plant polyphenols and folic acid.

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  • 1Centro de Investigaciones Toxicol√≥gicas, Buenos Aires, Argentina.


There is a well-established association between alcohol consumption and breast cancer risk. About 4% of the breast cancers in developed countries are estimated to be attributable to drinking alcohol. The mechanism of tumor promotion by alcohol remains unknown. Recent studies from our laboratory and others showed the ability of mammary tissue to bioactivate ethanol to mutagenic/carcinogenic acetaldehyde and free radicals. Xanthine oxidoreductase (XOR) is an enzyme involved in those biotransformation processes. In the present study, we provide evidence of the ability of different natural polyphenols and of folic acid derivatives to inhibit the biotransformation of alcohol to acetaldehyde by rat breast cytosolic XOR. Folic acid and dihydrofolic acid, at concentrations of 10 microM, inhibited 100% and 84%, respectively, of the cytosolic acetaldehyde formation. Thirty-five polyphenols were tested in these initial experiments: ellagic acid, myricetin, quercetin, luteolin, and apigenin inhibited 79-95% at 10 microM concentrations. The remaining polyphenols were either less potent or noninhibitory of acetaldehyde formation at similar concentrations in these screening tests. Results are relevant to the known preventive effects of folic acid against alcohol-induced breast cancer and to their potential preventive actions if added to foods or alcoholic beverages.

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