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What Mother Mouse Eats Affects Baby's Cancer Chances


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Study: What Mother Mouse Eats Affects Baby's Cancer Chances

POSTED: 5:51 pm CST December 26, 2006

UPDATED: 6:04 pm CST December 26, 2006

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Pregnant women who eat a diet rich in broccoli and cabbage could help protect their unborn children from developing cancer later in life, if the data in a new study holds up.

The research is still very preliminary and has been done only in lab mice. But doctors say a phytochemical found in such vegetables was able to protect the young animals against leukemia and lymphoma and even against lung cancer in middle age.

When pregnant mice were exposed to a potent carcinogen, 80 percent of their offspring died early in life from lymphoma.

But for those exposed mice who were also given a phytochemical, deaths from lymphoma were cut in half in the babies.

The number of lung tumors later in life for the offspring was also significantly reduced.

Vegetables rich in phytochemicals include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, radishes, turnips and other greens.

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

The phytochemical is called indole-3-carbinol. Supplements can be purchased, but researchers don't recommend pregnant women take the supplements because of the possible risk of birth defects.

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