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Br J Cancer. 2010 Feb 2;102(3):489-94. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6605510. Epub 2010 Jan 5.

Choline and betaine intake and risk of breast cancer among post-menopausal women.

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  • 1Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



Choline and betaine, similar to folate, are nutrients involved in one-carbon metabolism and hypothesised to reduce breast cancer risk. No prospective study among post-menopausal women has examined choline and betaine intakes in relation to breast cancer risk.


We examined the intake of choline and betaine and breast cancer risk among 74 584 post-menopausal women in the Nurses' Health Study. Nutrient intake was assessed using a validated food-frequency questionnaire six times since 1984. During 20 years of follow-up from 1984 until 2004, we documented 3990 incident cases of invasive breast cancer.


Overall, choline (mean+/-s.d.; 326+/-61 mg per day) and betaine (104+/-33 mg per day) intake was not associated with a reduced risk of post-menopausal breast cancer. Participants in the highest quintile of intakes had multivariate relative risks of 1.10 (95% confidence interval (95% CI): 0.99-1.22; P-value, test for trend=0.14) for choline and 0.98 (95% CI: 0.89-1.09; P-value, test for trend=0.96) for betaine, compared with those in the lowest quintiles of intakes. The results were similar in breast cancer stratified by hormone receptor (oestrogen receptor/progesterone receptor) status. The association between choline intake and breast cancer risk did not differ appreciably by alcohol intake (non-drinker, <15 or 15+ g per day) or several other breast cancer risk factors, including family history of breast cancer, history of benign breast disease, body mass index, post-menopausal hormone use, and folate intake.


We found no evidence that higher intakes of choline and betaine reduce risk of breast cancer among post-menopausal women.

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