Pregnancy Articles

Your Diet Can Protect Your Daughter from Breast Cancer

BabyFit News Flash

Recently, scientists studied the effects of diet on mice that were genetically modified to develop breast cancer. Once bred, they fed female mice a diet high in either omega-3 fatty acids or omega-6 fatty acids throughout pregnancy and while breastfeeding their young mice. Once weaned, the young female mice continued on either the omega-3 or omega-6 diet. All the baby mice on the omega-6 fatty acid diet showed tumor development by 6 months of age, while those on the healthy, omega-3 fatty acid diet had only 13% incidence of tumor development. Most people's diets are high in meat, eggs, poultry, snack crackers, chips, sweets, baked goods, vegetables oils, and margarine-foods high in omega-6 fatty acids and low in omega-3 fatty acids. This type diet may actually increase the risk for breast cancer.

BabyFit Tip: Your daughter's risk of developing breast cancer is likely reduced when you:
  • eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy and lactation, and
  • continue to feed her a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids after weaning.
Each week, eat 2-3 servings of foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as flaxseed, flaxseed oil, canola oil, soybeans, soybean oil, walnuts, fish, and shellfish. Due to the concern with mercury contamination during pregnancy, follow these fish eating guidelines from the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency:
  • Do NOT eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury.
  • Eat up to 12 ounces (2 average meals) per week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury, including shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish.
  • Albacore "white" tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna. So when choosing your two meals of fish and shellfish, you may eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) of albacore tuna per week.
  • Check local advisories about the safety of fish caught by family and friends in your local lakes, rivers, and coastal areas. If no advice is available, eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) per week of fish you catch from local waters, but do not consume any other fish during the week.
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