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'You are what you eat', and so too are your children, and their children - new research shows that consumption of junk food during pregnancy leads to higher risk of breast cancer in offspring. Whilst many causal links have been established between diet and cancer, more disturbing facts are emerging from the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Research led by Dr. Sonia de Assis has shown that increased intake of fatty foods during pregnancy can lead to increased risk of breast cancer in daughters, but even more worryingly, in granddaughters too. In a nutshell, if women eat high levels of junk food whilst pregnant, their daughters and granddaughters are much more likely to contract breast cancer during their lives than for the rest of the population. Women delivering boys rather than girls are not immune - girls born to their sons also carry this higher risk of cancer. It appears that consumption of fatty foods during pregnancy passes genetic changes to offspring that can pass down generations leading to higher disposition to breast cancer.
Cancer seems to be the scourge of modern day health. According to Cancer Research UK, between 1977 and 2006, cancer rates in men increased 25% and in women, 32%. These vast rises are almost certainly related to our lifestyle and changes to the wider environment in which we live. Thankfully, death rates from cancer have decreased in recent times which shows our ability to better treat cancer - two thirds of women suffering breast cancer now outlive the cancer by 20 years.
We must do all we can to combat the rising incidence of cancers and must adapt our lifestyles as our understanding of the causes of cancers improves. Eating sensibly during pregnancy makes sense, and is little to ask for - you could directly be improving the health of generations to come!