Researchers from North Dakota State University have found a connection between the foods mom eats during pregnancy and the risk of breast cancer in female offspring. The study reveals that certain nutrients consumed during gestation are better at preventing cancer than other foods. These findings may help doctors suggest a healthy pregnancy diet that affects more than the expecting mother. 

Everything an expectant mother consumes, the fetus consumes. Doctors are quick to suggest women give up cigarette smoking and alcohol during pregnancy, but what about diet? Chuck Park, a researcher at North Dakota State University, presented information from a new study at the Era of Hope Conference in Orlando regarding eating habits and breast cancer risk in female offspring. 

The study is still in animal stages, but the effects are clear. Expectant mothers taking in more methionine, folate, B12, and choline (lipotropic nutrients) may stimulate full breast growth, which is important to breast cancer prevention. During the study, rats were given chemicals to promote the growth of breast cancer tumors. Animals taking lipotropic nutrients presented with fewer tumors and tumor growth was not as advanced. 

According to Dr. Park, “The conclusions of this study suggest that we may be able to prevent the development of breast cancer in daughters of women at risk for breast cancer by supplementing the mother's diet during pregnancy.” 

The next step in research is a larger animal study; this study included only 45 rats. Human studies will take decades because information collection must start during gestation and continue well into the lives of offspring. Breast cancer can be detected at any time, but women over the age of 50 are more likely to develop breast cancer than women under the age of 30. 

Source: North Dakota State University. Professor Charles Park. 5 August 2011.