” Research published in the journal Nature Communications on September 11, 2012, and reviewed at the Eureka Alert web site, is the first to make a direct connection between maternal diet and the risk of developing breast cancer in successive generations of female children. ”
Maternal exposures to environmental factors during pregnancy influence the risk of many chronic adult-onset diseases in the offspring. Here we investigate whether feeding pregnant rats a high-fat (HF)- or ethinyl-oestradiol (EE2)-supplemented diet affects carcinogen-induced mammary cancer risk in daughters, granddaughters and great-granddaughters. We show that mammary tumourigenesis is higher in daughters and granddaughters of HF rat dams and in daughters and great-granddaughters of EE2 rat dams. Outcross experiments suggest that the increase in mammary cancer risk is transmitted to HF granddaughters equally through the female or male germ lines, but it is only transmitted to EE2 granddaughters through the female germ line. The effects of maternal EE2 exposure on offspring’s mammary cancer risk are associated with changes in the DNA methylation machinery and methylation patterns in mammary tissue of all three EE2 generations. We conclude that dietary and oestrogenic exposures in pregnancy increase breast cancer risk in multiple generations of offspring, possibly through epigenetic means.