Can the father’s obesity cause his daughter’s breast cancer?

We already told you about a study which looks at the relationship between the age of the father to the health of his newborn. Well, a recent study (published in 2016) has demonstrated that an obese father can increase the risk of breast cancer in his daughters.

Because 8 out of 10 breast cancer cases occur after the age of 50, it’s extremely important to have regular check-ups and to limit the risk by improving one’s quality of life, cutting down on processed products and taking part in regular physical activity. Of course, heredity also plays an important role in cancers: according to the Curie Institute, the mutation of two genes (BRCA 1 and BRCA 2) are known to induce a predisposition to breast cancer.

Unfortunately, a healthy lifestyle is not enough to completely eliminate the risk of cancer: genes play an important role as well. This is the subject of a study * published in the Scientific Reports journal. It was performed on mice: firstly, on a group of normal-weight mice and then on mice whose males were obese. The researchers then compared the state of health of the two litters.

This study, carried out in 2016, showed that obese male mice tend to have an overweight offspring at birth which then stabilises as adulthood approaches. However, at a later stage, abnormalities appear in mammary glands of the offspring, which according to the study, is a consequence of their obesity at birth. Malignant tumours were seen to be more frequent in the offspring of obese mice.

The link between the weight of the father and the weight of the newborn is caused by the alteration of the father’s spermatozoa which modifies the expression of the genes, an alteration caused by weight gain. We already know that our body adapts to its environment by genetic mutations, and this is a perfect example of it.

Of course, this study is limited as it was only performed on mice (and not on humans). However, it gives us an interesting insight into the link between the health of the father and that of his offspring.

Another study **, conducted in 2018 (following up on the aforementioned), showed that malnutrition of the father leads to a lower birth weight in its offspring. They also found that this offspring, with a below-average weight, has an increase risk of malignant tumours, just like those offspring which are born overweight.

The risk of cancer according to the weight of the newborn therefore forms a U: if the weight is normal at birth, the risk is at its lowest. Malnutrition can affect everyone because it corresponds to an unbalanced diet, which can cause deficiencies, thinness or overweight.

In conclusion, a poor diet can have a negative impact on your children, especially in the risk of developing cancer, even for men! Our goal is to help you have a healthy diet and to help you regain fitness, whether you are a man or a woman, so you are in great health, especially before conceiving a child!

*Fontelles, C. C. et al. Paternal overweight is associated with increased breast cancer risk in daughters in a mouse model. Sci. Rep. 6, 28602; doi: 10.1038/srep28602 (2016).

**Da Cruz, R. S., Carney, E. J., Clarke, J., Cao, H., Cruz, M. I., Benitez, C., … de Assis, S. (2018). Paternal malnutrition programs breast cancer risk and tumor metabolism in offspring. Breast Cancer Research, 20(1). doi:10.1186/s13058-018-1034-7

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