How Festively Plump Dads Might Make Their Daughters Sick
For a long time now, the medical community has observed the relationship between a mother's health and its effects on her children's health.
So far, we've been able to determine a mom's genetics can alter the genetics of her child as it forms in utero.
This is why there's been so much research dedicated to the relationship between children diagnosed on the autism spectrum and the health/behavior of mothers while pregnant.
Fathers, however, are often ignored as a major influence on the health of their children.
This isn't because their genetics don't matter - heck, they supply 50% of the gene supply when it comes to conception, so it's quite obvious their role in the health of their children is pronounced.
Yet, for the most part, research on this topic focuses primarily on women.
The good news (and bad news) is there's a new study illuminating how a father's health before conception can influence his child's health. In particular, this study regards how obese men and their genes could cause their daughters to develop breast cancer.
Behind skin cancer, breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer faced by women. It's also one of the deadliest forms of cancer, too.
It's believed close to 250,000 new cases of breast cancer will be reported during this year alone.
It's commonly understood activities which modify gene expression are often the mechanisms that cause breast cancer. These include things like smoking, poor diet, high stress levels, and more.
However, investigator Sonia de Assis, Ph.D., and her team of researchers at the Department of Oncology at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in Washington, D.C., reported in the journal Scientific Reports an obese father's sperm might also be a cause for breast cancer.
So how did they determine this exactly?
Well, the researchers chose a group of normal weight male mice and a separate group of obese male mice to mate with normal weight female mice.
When they observed the offspring, the mice who had obese fathers were more likely to have delayed breast tissue development, as well as a higher incidence of breast cancer.
The team investigated what caused this, and in analyzing the obese mice's sperm, found the sperm contained an altered microRNA (miRNA) signature (molecular strands that regulate gene expression). The offspring that had breast cancer exhibited the same miRNA expression.
This caused the team to conclude these alterations passed to the offspring were likely the cause of the forthcoming breast cancer.
As Assis reported:
"This study provides evidence that, in animals, a father's body weight at the time of conception affects both their daughter's body weight both at birth and in childhood as well as their risk of breast cancer later in life.
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."
This is yet another reason (in a long list of reasons) for men to stay in a normal weight range...
Especially if they care about their children.