hypomethylation Lu Hao

Fat dudes looking to have kids might want to put down the KFC and pick up the kale. Or put down the tiramisu and get on a treadmill. Or something.

Recent research has found that there is a possible link between paternal obesity and a small panel of children’s cancers.

All this science is way over my head, so I’m going to let the researchers, Gudrun E Moore and Philip Stanier explain it:

The insulin-like growth factor 2 (Igf2/IGF2) is a robustly imprinted gene, important for fetal growth in both mice and humans. In utero IGF2 exhibits paternal expression, which is controlled by several mechanisms, including the maternally expressing untranslated H19 gene. In the study by Soubry et al., a correlation is drawn between the IGF2 methylation status in fetal cord blood leucocytes, and the obesity status of the father from whom the active IGF2 allele is derived through his sperm. These data imply that paternal obesity affects the normal IGF2 methylation in the sperm and this in turn alters the expression of IGF2 in the baby.

But wait, this research was based on a different study (the Soubry study they mention), which you can see here. That study had found the link between paternal obesity (at the point of spermatogenesis!) and development of certain cancers – but with a twist. It’s actually the hypomethylation (ya dig?) that’s linked with “an increased risk of developing cancers, such as Wilms’ tumor, colorectal cancer and ovarian cancer,” according to the study.

Moore and Stainer, however, say that the relationship between both parents’ genes and their children’s development is “not critical.” Moore and Stainer say that it’s tempting to draw conclusions due to parent relation to (hypo)methylation. But, the researchers say, the small number of parent-related genes can’t be blamed for certain outcomes until a full panel of research is properly done.

So the conclusion is that more research needs to be done – though if you’re planning on conceiving a child, you might want to put down the doughnuts and pick up some dumbbells. Or something.