It's possible that one woman's high fat diet during pregnancy could increase the risk of breast cancer for several generations of her descendants. ECE associate professor Jason Xuan and ECE professor Yue (Joseph) Wang will be researching this possibility as part of a collaboration led by Georgetown University. The project is funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH), and Virginia Tech's share is $400,000 for four years.
A high fat diet during pregnancy increases ethinyl estradiol (EE2) levels, which has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer in daughters, granddaughters and great granddaughters. This study will investigate the risk of breast cancer in mice for four generations following the female exposed to a high fat diet.
The team will also test their hypothesis that this increased risk of breast cancer is caused by changes in DNA methylation. DNA methylation is a normal part of DNA development, but changes in this process could have an impact that persists for generations.