Researchers at Duke Medicine University have discovered that the risk of disease due to obesity can be passed on from a father to his children, according to a new study published in the journal BMC Medicine.
The researchers analyzed DNA samples from the umbilical cord blood leukocytes of 79 newborns that were born to mothers who had enrolled in the Newborn Epigenetics Study (NEST).
The researchers found that the DNA methylation at the IGF2 gene of the newborns who had obese fathers was significantly lower compared to those born to normal weight fathers. A numbers of studies have linked decreased DNA methylation at the IGF2 gene with an increased risk of cancers.
"Understanding the risks of the current Western lifestyle on future generations is important. The aim of this study was to determine potential associations between obesity in parents prior to conception and epigenetic profiles in offspring, particularly at certain gene regulatory regions", lead researcher Adelheid Soubry said.