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Research at NDSU Links Diet During Pregnancy to Reducing Breast Cancer Risk in Female Offspring

August 4, 2011, Fargo, N.D. — North Dakota State University professor Chung S. Park is among the researchers presenting at the Era of Hope scientific conference in Orlando, Fla., Aug. 2-5, hosted by the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP).  Research by Dr. Park suggests that a pregnant mother’s diet that contains certain nutrients can potentially reduce the risk of breast cancer in her female offspring.

In his research titled “In Utero Exposure to Dietary Methyl Nutrients and Breast Cancer Risk in Offspring,” Dr. Park studied 45 rats that were randomized into two groups. One group served as a control while the other was fed a methyl-supplemented diet. The pups that were born were separated into groups based on the mother’s feeding regime. Females then received a chemical to induce breast cancer and were followed for tumor development. Study results showed offspring whose mothers received a methyl-supplemented diet had decreased tumor incidence and growth than the control group. They also had fewer tumors and fewer tumors that multiplied.

According to Dr. Park, augmenting the mother's diet with lipotropic nutrients (methionine, choline, folate and vitamin B12) may boost methyl metabolism. This in turn may stimulate full development of the mammary gland to induce an epigenetic imprint in the mammary gland of the fetus, decreasing its breast cancer risk.

 “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,” said Park, a professor of animal sciences at North Dakota State University. “We look forward to exploring this study further to strengthen the implications of these initial findings.”

Dr. Park’s research interests include the nutritional regulation of animal growth, mammary development, lactation and mammary tumorigenesis. He received his doctorate degree in nutritional physiology from Virginia Polytechnic and State University, a master’s degree in ruminant nutrition from the University of Georgia and a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Seoul National University, Korea.

About NDSU
North Dakota State University, Fargo, is notably listed among the nation’s top 108 public and private universities in the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education’s elite category of “Research Universities/Very High Research Activity.” With a reputation for excellence in teaching and multidisciplinary research, NDSU links academics to opportunities. As a student-focused, land grant, research institution with more than 14,000 students, NDSU is listed in the top 40 research universities without a medical school in the U.S., based on research expenditures reported to the National Science Foundation.

About Era of Hope
One of the premier breast cancer research conferences, the Era of Hope (EOH) conference joins scientists, clinicians and breast cancer advocates committed to advancing research on the prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. From August 2-5, 2011 in Orlando, Florida, the EOH features prominent scientists and clinicians with presentations of recent remarkable advances in breast cancer research funded by the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP).

More information
“Methyl-donor nutrients inhibit breast cancer cell growth”
Animal In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology
doi: 10.1007/s11626-008-9096-y

“Role of compensatory mammary growth in epigenetic control of gene expression”
Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
doi: 10.1096/fj.05-3816hyp October 1, 2005 The FASEB Journal vol. 19 no. 12 1586-1591

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Last Updated: Monday, January 26, 2015 11:13:11 AM
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