Epidemiological studies have evaluated whether the impact of alcohol intake on breast cancer risk is modified by use of exogenous estrogens, folate intake, body weight and smoking status, but results have been inconsistent. Further, effect modification by intake of isoflavones and alcohol-induced facial flushing, which are prevalent in Asian populations, have not been investigated. We investigated the association between alcohol intake and breast cancer risk and whether the association is modified by these factors among 50,757 premenopausal and postmenopausal women (aged 40-69 years) in the population-based Japan Public Health Center-based Prospective Study. Alcohol consumption and other related factors were assessed using self-reported questionnaires. Through to the end of 2006, 572 patients were identified. Relative risks (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated by hazard ratios derived from Cox proportional hazards regression models. Compared with never-drinkers, regular alcohol drinkers (>150 g of ethanol/week) had a higher risk of the development of breast cancer; the multivariable-adjusted RRs were 1.75 (95% CI = 1.16-2.65; p(trend) = 0.035) for overall, 1.78 (95% CI = 1.09-2.90) for premenopausal and 1.21 (95% CI = 0.53-2.75) for postmenopausal women. There was no statistical evidence for effect modification by menopausal status, use of exogenous estrogens, intakes of isoflavone and folate, body weight, alcohol-induced facial flushing or smoking (All p(interactions) > or = 0.15). Excessive alcohol intake was associated with an increase in the risk of breast cancer in this population. There was no statistical evidence for effect modification.