The power of the food we eat is an amazing thing, and there is a whole world of research and hypotheses to explore on that topic. One fascinating facet of research is the way that past generations, specifically the food choices of past generations, affect our health today.

Diet during pregnancy and breast cancer risk 

One animal study using rats looked at the effect of a diet high in omega-6 fatty acids during pregnancy. One group was fed a normal, balanced diet; the other was given a diet high in omega-6 fatty acids, mimicking a common diet for many Americans. After the babies were born, the mothers, children, and then the grandchildren were fed healthy, moderate fat diets.

It turns out that the granddaughters of the original group of rats that had eaten a diet high in omega-6 fatty acids while pregnant had a 30 percent higher rate of getting breast cancer in comparison to the group of rats that had grandmothers that ate a healthier diet when pregnant.

When a rat granddaughter had one grandmother in the unhealthy diet group, and one in the healthy diet group, they had a 19 percent higher chance of breast cancer in comparison to rats that had both grandmothers in the healthy diet group.

My take-away from this study:

  • Your diet when pregnant is a crucial point of development for not only that child, but also future generations.
  • Diets high in omega-6 fatty acids are always harmful, but especially for a pregnant woman. It’s important to eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and to avoid foods such as vegetable oils and foods fried in omega-6 fatty acids.
  • Making good food choices at any point in your life can have beneficial results not only for you today, but also for future generations.
Studies like this are certainly sobering, but the hopeful facts include the research showing that we can help reverse the tide of ill health through healthy choices. Giving pregnant women the resources they need to make healthy food choices could be an important step to future, healthier generations. 

You can also find me on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest. I'd love to see you there! 

Related on MNN: 

Did your grandmothers' diet increase your risk for cancer?
Our risk of cancer may be influenced by more than our own food choices.