Purpose: The study assessed whether diet and adherence to cancer prevention guidelines during pregnancy were associated with micronucleus (MN) frequency in mothers and newborns. MN is biomarkers of early genetic effects that have been associated with cancer risk in adults.
Methods: A total of 188 mothers and 200 newborns from the Rhea cohort (Greece) were included in the study. At early-mid pregnancy, we conducted personal interviews and a validated food frequency questionnaire was completed. With this information, we constructed a score reflecting adherence to the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research cancer prevention guidelines on diet, physical activity and body fatness. At delivery, maternal and/or cord blood was collected to measure DNA and hemoglobin adducts of dietary origin and frequencies of MN in binucleated and mononucleated T lymphocytes (MNBN and MNMONO).
Results: In mothers, higher levels of red meat consumption were associated with increased MNBN frequency [2nd tertile IRR = 1.34 (1.00, 1.80), 3rd tertile IRR = 1.33 (0.96, 1.85)] and MNMONO frequency [2nd tertile IRR = 1.53 (0.84, 2.77), 3rd tertile IRR = 2.69 (1.44, 5.05)]. The opposite trend was observed for MNBN in newborns [2nd tertile IRR = 0.64 (0.44, 0.94), 3rd tertile IRR = 0.68 (0.46, 1.01)], and no association was observed with MNMONO. Increased MN frequency in pregnant women with high red meat consumption is consistent with previous knowledge.
Conclusions: Our results also suggest exposure to genotoxics during pregnancy might affect differently mothers and newborns. The predictive value of MN as biomarker for childhood cancer, rather than adulthood, remains unclear. With few exceptions, the association between maternal carcinogenic exposures during pregnancy and childhood cancer or early biologic effect biomarkers remains poorly understood.
Keywords: Cancer; Diet; Epidemiology; Genotoxicity; Maternal nutrition.