- April 4, 2014
Science Daily/Georgetown University Medical Center
Obese male mice and normal weight female mice produce female pups that are overweight at birth and in childhood, and have increased number of 'terminal end buds' in their breast tissue -- the site where breast cancer often develops in rodents. 'Researchers traditionally study the maternal link to weight and cancer risk. This unusual study demonstrates a potential paternal link as well,' says the study author.
Obesity seems to sometimes run in families, as does some breast cancers. Maternal obesity is believed to influence both conditions in humans -- a woman who is heavy in pregnancy can produce larger babies, who may have increased risk of breast cancer later in life. But few if any studies have looked at the influence of dad's obesity on his offspring's cancer risk.
"This study provides evidence that, in animals, a fathers' body weight at the time of conception affects both their daughters' body weight both at birth and in childhood and likely their risk of breast cancer later in life," says the study's lead investigator, Sonia de Assis, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Oncology at Georgetown Lombardi. "Of course our study was done in mice, but it would be very interesting to know if the same associations hold for daughters of human fathers who were obese at the time of conception," she says.
"Researchers traditionally study the maternal link to weight and cancer risk. This unusual study demonstrates a potential paternal link as well," de Assis says. "Until we know about this association in men, we should stick to what we all know is good advice: women -- and men -- should eat a balanced diet not only for their own benefit but also to give their offspring's the best chances of being healthy.