Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » Little Rock, Arkansas » Microbiome and Metabolism Research Unit » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #269590

Title: The maternal womb: a novel target for cancer prevention in the era of the obesity pandemic?

item SIMMEN, FRANK - University Arkansas For Medical Sciences (UAMS)
item SIMMEN, ROSALIA - Arkansas Children'S Nutrition Research Center (ACNC)

Submitted to: European Journal of Cancer Prevention
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/5/2011
Publication Date: 11/11/2011
Citation: Simmen, F.A., Simmen, R.C. 2011. The maternal womb: a novel target for cancer prevention in the era of the obesity pandemic?. European Journal of Cancer Prevention. 20(6):539-548.

Interpretive Summary: Obesity is a world-wide problem and a major cause of many adult diseases. Since obese mothers are more likely to have children growing up to be obese, there is a growing acknowledgement that controlling pre-pregnancy weight and pregnancy weight gains may intervene with the feed-forward cycle of maternal to offspring obesity transfer that begins in the womb. Such interventions during pregnancy may help prevent or minimize cancer risk of offspring at adulthood.

Technical Abstract: The dramatic rise in worldwide prevalence of obesity has necessitated the search for more efficacious anti-obesity strategies to counter the increased cancer risks in overweight and obese individuals. The mechanistic pathways linking obesity status with adult chronic diseases such as cancer remain incompletely understood. A growing body of evidence suggests that novel approaches and interventional agents to disrupt the feed-forward cycle of maternal to obesity transfer that is initiated in utero, will be important for stemming both the obesity pandemic and the associated increase in cancer incidence. The convergence of multiple research areas including those encompassing the insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF) systems, epigenetics and stem cell biology is providing insights into the potential for cancer prevention in adult offspring previously exposed to the intrauterine environment of overweight/obese mothers. Here, we review the current state of this nascent field, with a focus on three major cancers namely breast, colorectal and liver, and suggest some possible future directions to optimize its impact for the health of future generations.