Paternal Obesity Could Potentially Increase Breast Cancer Risks

Female mice with obese fathers have delayed development in breast tissue and higher rates of breast cancer.

A recent study discovered that paternal obesity could potentially impact breast tissue development and breast cancer risk in female offspring.

Obese male mice and average weight female mice are more likely to have overweight female pups with increased rates of breast cancer, according to a study published in Scientific Reports.

The researchers discovered changes in the microRNA (miRNA) signature in the father’s sperm and the daughter’s breast tissue. It was found that the miRNAs regulated insulin receptor signaling, and other molecular pathways involved with cancer development.

"This study provides evidence that, in animals, a fathers' body weight at the time of conception affects both their daughters' body weight both at birth and in childhood as well as their risk of breast cancer later in life," said study lead investigator, Sonia de Assis, PhD. "Of course our study was done in mice, but it recapitulates recent findings in humans which show that obese men have significant epigenetic alterations in their sperm compared to lean men. Our animal study suggests that those epigenetic alterations in sperm may have consequences for next generation cancer risk."

Researchers said their next step is to determine whether these findings prove true in humans, as well.

"Until we know about this association in men, we should stick to what we all know is good advice: women -- and men -- should eat a balanced diet, keep a healthy body weight and life-style not only for their own benefit but also to give their offspring's the best chances of being healthy,” the researchers concluded.