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High-fat diet, excess estrogen shown to increase risk for breast cancer in later generations

Category: Breast

The daughters and granddaughters of women who consume an unhealthy diet while pregnant could see their chances of getting a positive lab test for cancer markers increase, if new data published in Nature Communications holds weight.

To produce these findings, scientists affiliated with Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center administered a high-fat diet to a group of pregnant rats. Compared to the offspring of rats that ate a normal amount, the rate of breast cancer in the daughters and granddaughters of the overfed rats rose by 55 to 60 percent. Another group of pregnant rats were given estrogen supplements with their food, and 50 percent more of their offspring developed breast tumors, sometimes as far down the line as their great-granddaughters.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, some forms of breast cancer - which can be detected through a lab test for cancer markers - feed off estrogen. Excessive alcohol consumption, giving birth after the age of 30, certain types of drugs, hormone replacement therapy, obesity and radiation therapy are all factors the agency indicates as things that could potentially increase the risk of breast cancer.

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