Consuming foods that are rich in certain fatty acids or nutrients during pregnancy can potentially reduce the risk of breast cancer in female offspring, according to researchers.
The research delves into breast cancer risk reductions attributed to the fetus when the mother, while pregnant, increases omega 3 fatty acids within her diet or consumes dietary methyl nutrients (methionine, choline, folate and vitamin B12). Some findings hypothesize that these diet augmentations may even prevent breast cancer from ever developing in the offspring.
The study looked at 45 pregnant rats and randomized them into two groups: one to receive a control and the other to be fed a methyl-supplemented diet. Once the pups were born, they were separated into three additional groups depending on the feeding regime of their mother. When the female pups reached a specific age, they were exposed to a chemical that induced breast cancer and researchers charted when the first tumour appeared and measured all tumour sizes and volumes.
Results demonstrated that the offspring from the methyl-supplemented diet group showed a decrease in tumour incidence and growth when compared to the control group. Also, they had fewer tumours and fewer tumours that multiplied.
"The conclusions of this study suggest that we may be able to prevent the development of breast cancer in daughters of women at risk for breast cancer by supplementing the mother's diet during pregnancy," said Dr. Chung Park, North Dakota State University.
The research was presented at the Era of Hope conference, a scientific meeting hosted by the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP).