Grandma Gave Me Cancer: Pregnancy Diet May Affect Generations

Filed under: Nutrition: Health, In The News, Weird But True, Research Reveals


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Craving a burger during pregnancy? You could be giving your granddaughter cancer. Credit: Getty Images

Cancer victims have a new culprit to blame, and that's Grandma. A new study suggests that poor eating habits during pregnancy can affect the health of multiple generations and increases the risk of cancer in a woman's children -- and even her grandchildren.

MSNBC reports that the study, conducted on rats, shows that the risks of a diet high in omega-6 fatty acids can be passed from one generation to another, even if the descendants have healthy eating habits.

Researchers fed the rats a typical American diet and therefore they suspect that the results would also be true if the study had been conducted on humans. Some of the pregnant rats were fed a diet high in omega-6 fatty acids and others got healthier fare. After the babies were delivered, they got healthy, moderate-fat diets, as did the mothers and later their grandchildren.

The granddaughters of the fat rats were 30 percent more inclined to develop breast cancer than those whose grandmothers ate healthy foods. However, when only one grandmother on either the maternal or paternal side ate poorly, the granddaughter had a reduced risk -- about 19 percent -- of breast cancer.

The study used a menu that was 43 percent fat, composed mostly of foods made with vegetable oil packed with omega-6s. A healthy diet, lead researcher Sonia de Assis of Georgetown University tells MSNBC, includes a fat intake of only 25 to 30 percent, maximum. "But with fast food and everything, a lot of people eat more than that each day," de Assis says.

Related: USDA May Ban Additives From Organic Formula

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