Scientists at the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center are saying that their study shows a link between a high fat diet during pregnancy and a higher risk of breast cancer in future generations.
The study — which, it should be noted, was done in rats and not humans — found that rodent grandmothers fed a diet that was 43 percent fat produced offspring who were at a higher risk of developing breast cancer. And when those offspring reproduced, their daughters were at a higher risk of the disease as well.
The researchers also found that the risk appears to not only extend from mother to daughter and granddaughter, but also from mother to son to granddaughter. For example, the daughters of male and female rats born from mother rats that ate a lot of fat had an 80 percent chance of developing breast cancer, but the risk was about 69 percent if the granddaughter’s mother or father was born from a rat that ate normally and the other parent came from a high-fat-consuming parent. By contrast, granddaughters of grandmother rats who ate a normal chow had a 50 percent chance of developing breast cancer.
The theory is that the high fat diet creates a higher number of “terminal breast buds,” the place in the breast where scientists think that breast cancer develops. It’s important to note, too, that though the rats were fed a high fat diet, they were not fed an excess amount of calories — these weren’t fat rats.
Small studies like this one don’t draw clear conclusions, but the message isn’t a new one anyway: Stick to a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins for your and your baby’s health, and know that there just might be a chance you’re promoting the good health of future generations as well.
Photo: Robert Scoble, Flickr
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