Scientists say obese dads may increase their daughters’ risk of breast cancer

  • Recent study suggests that fathers who are obese are likely to increase the possibility for their daughters to acquire breast cancer
  • The study was conducted on obese male mice which mated with normal weight female mice
  • Result shows that female pups from obese male mice had an increase chance of developing breast cancer than pups from non-obese fathers

New research conducted by scientists at Georgetown University in Washington DC suggested that women who are conceived when their father is overweight could be at a 30 per cent higher risk of developing breast cancer.

An article written by Henry Bodkin on The Telegraph mentioned that scientists found that obese male mice which mated with normal weight females produced female pups that had an increased chance of developing breast cancer than pups from non-obese fathers.

Evidence which the researchers found pointed out that obesity changes the miRNA signature, or epigenetic regulators of gene expression, in both the father mouse’s sperm and the daughter’s breast tissue. This, they said, suggested that miRNAs may carry epigenetic information from obese fathers to their daughters.

Scientists noted that the miRNAs they identified regulate insulin receptor signalling that can be linked to alterations in body weight and other features which is associated with cancer development specifically hypoxia.

As such, the researchers disclosed that maternal obesity is believed to influence breast cancer in humans.

Meanwhile, Sonia de Assis, assistant professor in the department of oncology at Georgetown, explained that their study was done in mice. However, it recapitulates recent findings in humans which show that obese men have significant epigenetic alterations in their sperm compared to men with lean dody.

“Our animal study suggests that those epigenetic alterations in sperm may have consequences for next generation cancer risk,” the professor claimed as she further said that the next step to establish is whether the same associations apply to daughters of human fathers who are overweight at the time of conception.

In addition, de Assis said that while they have not yet fully establish the association in men, people should be advised to live a healthy body weight and lifestyle to include a balanced diet for their own welfare and offsprings, as well.