Washington: Experiments on mice show that those born to mothers fed a diet supplemented with B vitamins are less likely to develop gut tumours.
Previous research in humans and mice suggests that B vitamins, particularly folate, play a role in the prevention of colorectal (gut) cancer.
Using a mouse model of naturally occurring colorectal cancer, Human Nutrition Research Centre on Aging (HNRCA) scientists at Tufts University, examined whether a mothers` B vitamin intake affects her offspring`s cancer risk, the journal Gut reports.
Mothers were fed diets containing supplemental, adequate or mildly deficient quantities of vitamins B2, B6, B12 and folate prior to conception through weaning after which all of the offspring received the same adequate diet, according to a Tufts statement.
"We saw, by far, the fewest intestinal tumours in the offspring of mothers consuming the supplemented diet," said Jimmy Crott, senior study author at the HNRCA.
"Fifty four percent of tumours in the deficient offspring were advanced and had invaded surrounding tissue while only 18 percent of tumours in the offspring of adequate mothers displayed these aggressive properties," he added.
Crott and colleagues linked the tumour suppression seen in the offspring of supplemented mothers with a protection against disruptions to the Wnt signaling pathway, a network of genes commonly altered in colorectal cancer.
"The strongest expression of tumour-suppressing genes in the Wnt pathway was in the offspring of supplemented mothers and the weakest was in the offspring of the mildly deficient mothers," said study co-author Eric Ciappio, doctoral candidate in nutrition at Tufts.