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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging

Title: Maternal one-carbon nutrient intake and cancer risk in offspring

item Mason, Joel B.
item Crott, Jimmy
item Ciappio, Eric

Submitted to: Nutrition Reviews
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/7/2011
Publication Date: 10/1/2011
Citation: Mason, J., Crott, J., Ciappio, E. 2011. Maternal one-carbon nutrient intake and cancer risk in offspring. Nutrition Reviews. 69(10):561-571.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Dietary intake of one-carbon nutrients, particularly folate, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and choline have been linked to the risk of cancers of the colon and breast in both human and animal studies. More recently, experimental and epidemiological data have emerged to suggest that maternal intake of these nutrients during gestation may also have an impact on the risk of cancer in offspring later in life. Given the plasticity of DNA methylation in the developing embryo and the established role of one-carbon metabolism in supporting biological methylation reactions, it is plausible that alterations in maternal one-carbon nutrient availability might induce subtle epigenetic changes in the developing embryo and fetus that persist into later life, altering the risk of tumorigenesis throughout the lifespan. This review summarizes the current literature on maternal one-carbon nutrient intake and offspring cancer risk, with an emphasis on cancers of the colon and breast, and discusses specific epigenetic modifications that may play a role in their pathogenesis.

Last Modified: 07/21/2017
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