Health and Medicine

Daughters of Overweight Fathers May Have Higher Cancer Risk

cancer overweight

New studies show that obese male mice, who mate with normal weight female mice, produce female pups that are overweight at birth and well into their childhood. These baby mice also develop breast tissue later than usual and have an increased rate of breast cancer

The researchers believe they have located evidence that obesity actually changes the microRNA (or miRNA) signature (epigenetic regulators of gene expression) in both dad’s sperm and the breast tissue of their daughters. This suggests that miRNA may carry the epigenetic information from obese dads directly to their unborn daughters. The miRNA’s help in the regulation of insulin receptor signaling, which is linked to changes in body weight as well as other molecular pathways that are associated with the development of cancer, similarly to the hypoxia signaling pathway.

Obesity seems like it tends to run in families, as do some forms of breast cancer. Maternal obesity is thought to influence both conditions in humans. A woman who is larger during her pregnancy may produce larger babies. These babies may be at a higher risk of developing breast cancer later on in life. A lot of the focus has been related to the maternal side of things, there have not been many studies that looked at the influence of a father’s health on his future offspring’s risk of cancer.

The lead investigator of the study, Sonia de Assis, is an assistant professor in the department of oncology at Georgetown Lombardi. She says this study provides us with the evidence that a father’s body weight at the time of conception, in animals, affects not only his daughter’s body weight at time of birth and during her childhood, but also affects her level of risk when it comes to developing breast cancer later on in life. Of course, the study was done on mice, but it recapitulates recent findings in humans which show that obese men have very significant epigenetic alterations in their sperm compared to leaner men. This animal study suggests that those epigenetic alterations in sperm may have consequences for next generation cancer risk.




De Assis says the next step in the research is to see if the same associations can be linked between human fathers who are overweight at time of conception and the risk of breast cancer among their daughters. She goes on to say that until we know about this association in men, we should stick to what we all know is a good piece of advice: both women and men should continue to try their best to eat a well-balanced diet, maintain healthy body weight and live a life style that promotes such things. Not only will this benefit each of us as individuals, but it could potentially lead to much healthier and happier children, whether we plan on getting pregnant anytime soon or not. Prevention is the key to success when it comes to health and routines are difficult to break once those strong habits are formed.

The team plans to continue their studies to get direct answers about the human repercussions of fathers being overweight at the time of conception on their unborn children. Other animals may be tested as well to get a better idea as to how these changes occur and if there are any ways technology can go about altering the potential outcomes. There may be certain genes that minimize the risk for cancer even if patients who should have a much larger risk.

The latest findings were published online in the June 24th edition of Scientific Reports journal by researchers from the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. The discovery comes from one of the first animal studies that examine the impact of paternal obesity on future generations’ cancer risk.

  • Thomas Carney

    The entire paper is yet another example of feminism washing over into “real life.” This is obviously an attempt at a hit piece against men, so that 10 years down the rad when this “research” is “confirmed”, it can become acceptable to shame men for being obese, or for passing some law giving extras healthcare to girls (that boys won’t get.)

    Just google the author, read her other stuff, she’s a feminist. She made the sole cause of the problem to be men, and the sole victims of the issue to be women. Why did the author choose not to study the affect of obese women on their children? Or whether or not sons could also be effected?

    This is just like that terribly done study “proving” circumcision does no damage a few months ago from Canada…carried about by feminist psychology majors.

    • Bart Fargo

      LOL… the lead investigator is a feminist because she researchers breast cancer? Note that she also recently published a paper linking maternal high-fat diet to mammary cancer risk in rats – i.e. her research hardly revolves around uncovering paternal contributions to breast cancer risk. Paternal epigenetic inheritance is a developing area with fascinating potential mechanisms and implications, while it is already well-known that maternal obesity has profound impact on the health of the child. You’re a clueless asshat, and proud of it.

    • Margarida Dimas Santiago

      Do you eat shit for meals?

  • Lonesome Twin

    Has any study anywhere ever proved that something doesn’t give you cancer? #justwondrin

  • <– By the way he is a ninja

    fathers give it to daughters? What about mothers giving it to sons? Or is this feminist writer just trying to shame men for making womens’ lives miseries?

  • <– By the way he is a ninja

    fathers give it to daughters? What about mothers giving it to sons? Or is this feminist writer just trying to shame men for making womens’ lives miseries?

    • kagzigian

      Actually not all. I teach genetics and one of the units I cover is epigenetics – my students always list it as one of heir favorite topics of the year. If you are interested in learning about epigenetics here is a link to a very good primer on the subject ( I especially recommend the activity entitled” Lick Your Rat – it parallels failure to thrive in human infants):
      http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/epigenetics/

    • kagzigian

      Actually not all. I teach genetics and one of the units I cover is epigenetics – my students always list it as one of heir favorite topics of the year. If you are interested in learning about epigenetics here is a link to a very good primer on the subject ( I especially recommend the activity entitled” Lick Your Rat – it parallels failure to thrive in human infants):
      http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/epigenetics/