Study Finds Fat Fathers 'Increase Their Daughter's Risk Of Breast Cancer' 6 years ago

Study Finds Fat Fathers 'Increase Their Daughter's Risk Of Breast Cancer'

It has long-since been a well-known fact that the mother's health and weight can have a pretty significant impact on the baby she is carrying, both while she is pregnant and also later in the child's life.

But now for the first time a study has come out that has examined the effect of a man being obese on his offspring's future cancer risk.

Alarmingly, what the researchers found was that fathers who are overweight may be putting their daughters at risk of breast cancer.

The study, by Georgetown University Medical Centre, was carried out in lab mice but scientists said the findings also applied to humans.

The problem, according to the study, published in Scientific Reports, is that daughters of fat fathers but slim mothers are overweight when born and throughout childhood. They also, of even more concern, have delayed development of their breast tissue as well as increased rates of breast cancer.


Of how the father's weight can have implications for his daughters health, the study suggests that carrying extra pounds changes the DNA of a man's sperm.

In more technical terms: Obesity changes the microRNA (miRNA) signature - epigenetic regulators of gene expression - in both the dad's sperm and the daughter's breast tissue. Epigenetics, in case you don't know, are heritable chemical changes that can switch certain genes on or off, and are increasingly becoming recognised as a mechanism that allows health effects of the environment or lifestyle to be passed on to future generations.

This is what assistant professor Dr Sonia de Assis had to say: "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 - as well as their risk of breast cancer later in life."

More research is needed according to the professor, but in the mean time, he suggests we all stick to what we know to be good advice:

"Women - and men - should eat a balanced diet, keep a healthy body weight and lifestyle not only for their own benefit but also to give their offspring's the best chances of being healthy."

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