Junk food may harm moms-to-be's grandchildren
Article page | Family topics |
London: Moms-to-be who scoff junk
food may not only be harming their unborn child, but could also be
putting their future grandchildren at risk of breast cancer, a new study has
Researchers have carried out the study and found that mothers can pass the
legacy of an unhealthy diet onto their daughters and granddaughters, raising
their odds of breast cancer, the 'Daily Mail' reported.
For their study, the researchers fed some pregnant rats normally and gave
others the same amount of calories but in a much fattier form. They then
looked at breast cancer rates in the animal's daughter and granddaughters,
both of which were fed normally.
Despite this second and third generation not gorging on fatty food, they
were up to 60 per cent more likely to develop breast tumours than other
The researchers, from Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in
Washington, then tried to work out how something that happened in pregnancy
can go on to affect the health for generations to come.
They showed that it wasn't due to the junk food diet raising levels of
oestrogen, a hormone that fuels the growth of breast tumours.
Instead, they believe it can be explained by a process called epigenetics,
in which conditions in womb cause subtle changes to the way genes work.
These changes, different to mutations, can be passed down the line from mom
to daughter, or from father to son, time and time again.
In this case, the tiny changes may increase the number of potentially
cancerous "buds" in the breast.
Lead researcher Dr Sonia de Assis said: "That is our theory but we don't
really know how it is happening just yet."
Despite this, she believes there is a clear message for human health. "The
implications from this study are that pregnant mothers need to eat a
well-balanced diet because they may be affecting the future health of their
daughters and granddaughters."
The findings have been presented at the American Association for Cancer
Research's annual conference recently.
PTI / Zee news