Heightened awareness of susceptibility of fetuses to carcinogens has many women very interested in manners to protect their unborn babies from such exposure. A new study shows that the dose and timing of exposure of the fetus to carcinogens determines the risk for cancer. Oregon State University has released a report, "Cancer from fetal exposure to carcinogens depends on dose, timing."
A recent study has found that the cancer-causing potential of fetal exposure to carcinogens can vary substantially. Different types of problems can occur much later in life depending on the stage of the pregnancy when the fetus is exposed to carcinogens. These studies were done at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, and also other institutions, in laboratory studies with mice. In this study mice were given four separate doses of a carcinogen commonly found in air pollutants or other combustion products.
The mice were than found to have triple the level of ovarian cancer at the rodent equivalent of middle age. And approximately 80 percent of them also got lung cancer. By contrast in previous research the same amount of this carcinogen given in a single dose had caused a much higher rate of T-cell lymphoma, which is a type of blood cancer. When the carcinogen exposure was spread out over time T-cell lymphoma was found to almost disappear. And liver cancer was also largely absent.
David Williams, a professor of environmental and molecular toxicology at OSU commented on fetal exposure to carcinogens, “We know it’s far more sensitive than adults for several reasons, including faster cell division and the lack of protective detoxifying enzymes. But it’s interesting that the timing of fetal exposure makes such a difference in which organs are targeted. These results were somewhat surprising.” Scientists say research such as this suggests that a healthy diet is important during pregnancy, including a wide range of fruits and vegetables. In particular cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower, have high levels of some compounds believed to help protect against cancer.