As with so many aspects of cancer risk, the answer lies in the genes. In the case of folate and alcohol, this may be down to a gene called MTHFR. This name might look a little familiar from earlier, because it’s the enzyme methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, which plays a crucial role in folate metabolism. We know that people can have three different versions of the DNA sequence that encodes the MTHFR gene – CC, CT or TT. These letters relate to specific changes in the individual ‘letters’ of the DNA code within the gene.

Some researchers have found that people with the TT version may be more susceptible to the cancer-causing effects of heavy drinking and a low folate diet, compared with people carrying the CT or CC versions. There’s also evidence to link the TT version to an increased risk of breast cancer in combination with a diet lacking folate.

However, others have discovered that the TT type may actually be protected from cancer by dint of their genes. It’s clear that more research – and in particular, more large-scale genetic studies – need to be done before we really understand the impact of nurture (i.e. our diet and drinking habits) on our underlying genetic nature.