Washington: A father`s obesity may influence his children`s health and potentially raise their risk for diseases like cancer, according to new research. The study by researchers from Duke University Medical Center is the first in humans to show that paternal obesity may alter a genetic mechanism in the next generation, suggesting that a father`s lifestyle factors may be transmitted to his children. "Understanding the risks of the current Western lifestyle on future generations is important," said molecular biologist Adelheid Soubry, the study`s lead author. "The aim of this study was to determine potential associations between obesity in parents prior to conception and epigenetic profiles in offspring, particularly at certain gene regulatory regions," Soubry said in a statement. The Duke team sought to determine associations between obesity in parents and changes in DNA methylation at the insulin-like growth factor 2 (IGF2) gene among offspring. DNA methylation regulates the activity of certain genes, which can reflect a higher risk for some diseases. Decreased DNA methylation at the IGF2 gene has been associated with an increased risk of developing certain cancers, including colorectal and ovarian cancers. "Our genes are able to adapt to our environment. However, we adjust in a way that may be problematic later," said Cathrine Hoyo, the study`s senior author.
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