Alcohol consumption and serum metabolite concentrations in young women

Joanne F. Dorgan*, Seungyoun Jung, Cher M. Dallal, Min Zhan, Christina A. Stennett, Yuji Zhang, Richard L. Eckert, Linda G. Snetselaar, Linda Van Horn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Purpose: Alcohol consumption is an established breast cancer risk factor, though further research is needed to advance our understanding of the mechanism underlying the association. We used global metabolomics profiling to identify serum metabolites and metabolic pathways that could potentially mediate the alcohol–breast cancer association. Methods: A cross-sectional analysis of reported alcohol consumption and serum metabolite concentrations was conducted among 211 healthy women 25–29 years old who participated in the Dietary Intervention Study in Children 2006 Follow-Up Study (DISC06). Alcohol–metabolite associations were evaluated using multivariable linear mixed-effects regression. Results: Alcohol was significantly (FDR p < 0.05) associated with several serum metabolites after adjustment for diet composition and other potential confounders. The amino acid sarcosine, the omega-3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoate, and the steroid 4-androsten-3beta,17beta-diol monosulfate were positively associated with alcohol intake, while the gamma-tocopherol metabolite gamma-carboxyethyl hydroxychroman (CEHC) was inversely associated. Positive associations of alcohol with 2-methylcitrate and 4-androsten-3beta,17beta-diol disulfate were borderline significant (FDR p < 0.10). Metabolite set enrichment analysis identified steroids and the glycine pathway as having more members associated with alcohol consumption than expected by chance. Conclusions: Most of the metabolites associated with alcohol in the current analysis participate in pathways hypothesized to mediate the alcohol–breast cancer association including hormonal, one-carbon metabolism, and oxidative stress pathways, but they could also affect risk via alternative pathways. Independent replication of alcohol–metabolite associations and prospective evaluation of confirmed associations with breast cancer risk are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-126
Number of pages14
JournalCancer Causes and Control
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020


  • Alcohol
  • Androgen
  • Eicosapentaenoate
  • Sarcosine
  • Serum metabolite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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