Research has suggested that a mother's diet could have an impact on her offspring's chances of developing colorectal cancer.
A team at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University looked at the effect of B vitamins on a group of mice.
Prior to conception, the mothers were fed diets containing supplemental, adequate of mildly deficient quantities of vitamins B2, B6 and B12.
Jimmy Crott, senior author and scientist in the Vitamins and Carcinogensesis Laboratory at the university, explained that the offspring of the mothers who were fed the supplemented diet had "by far the fewest intestinal tumours in the offspring".
First author Eric Ciappio noted: "We attribute these differences in gene expression to epigenetics, modifications of DNA which are sensitive to environmental factors such as diet.
"In this case, changing maternal B vitamin intake had lasting epigenetic effects in offspring and may explain the differences in tumour incidence and aggressiveness we observed."