Wednesday, April 21, 2010

You Are To Blame For Your Grandkids' Cancer!

Don't believe me? Check out this headline:

Grandmother's diet influences grandchildren's breast cancer risk

I read the title and knew right away it couldn't be based on humans. We don't have food surveys for what our grandmothers ate when pregnant.

And indeed, the study was about rats. But that didn't cause any hesitation for this popularization to conclude:

Researchers say they're not sure why the increased risk is based on at least two generations but they know how to prevent it. Eat good fats and fresh, whole foods while pregnant.

I hope all rats listen to that good advice.

More seriously, not all rodent studies carry over to humans. Many do not. We are able to cure all sorts of stuff in mice that we still cannot cure in humans. But if we are interested in the well-being of rats, how about also studying grandfather rats? Give them lots of fat before they get grandmother rats pregnant and follow up.
Who knows, maybe the grand-rats get even more cancers then?

Addendum: I clicked on the link this popularization gave for the study. It didn't take me to the study but to something called Medical News Today.

The site smells off to me. Too many stories about 100% cure rates and clearly non-neutral treatments of topics such as abortion and breast cancer. The summary of this study has impossible-to-believe numbers:

The researchers also found that the risk appears to not only extend from mother to daughter and granddaughter, but also from mother to son to granddaughter. For example, the daughters of male and female rats born from mother rats that ate a lot of fat had an 80 percent chance of developing breast cancer, but the risk was about 69 percent if the granddaughter's mother or father was born from a rat that ate normally and the other parent came from a high-fat-consuming parent. By contrast, granddaughters of grandmother rats who ate a normal chow had a 50 percent chance of developing breast cancer.

Half of all female rats develop breast cancer? Without even having that evil fat-gorging granny? I don't think that can be true.

In any case, wasn't the risk supposed to be an 80% increase? For instance, if the initial rate of breast cancer in female rats was, say, 10%, and if the fat-gorging-granny effect was an 80% increase, then the granddaughters of those evil creatures would have a rate of 18%.