Low-protein diet during pregnancy increases prostate cancer risk in offspring

The offspring of females fed a low-protein diet during pregnancy and lactation are significantly more likely to develop prostate cancer as they age.

This is the main finding of a study performed with rats at São Paulo State University’s Bioscience Institute (IBB-UNESP) in Botucatu, Brazil. The results of the study, which was supported by the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), have been published in The Journals of Gerontology: Series A.


“Our previous research showed that intrauterine exposure to a low-protein diet impairs prostate development. Our latest published study proves that this effect observed postnatally increases the incidence of prostate disease when the individuals concerned are older,” said Luis Antonio Justulin Junior, a professor at IBB-UNESP and principal investigator for the study.

The model used in Justulin’s laboratory consists of feeding pregnant females a diet with only 6% protein. Laboratory rats are normally fed a diet that contains between 17% and 23% protein.

“Data in the literature show 12% to be the minimum protein content needed for rats to carry a pregnancy to term without problems,” Justulin said.

The pregnant rats included in the study were divided into three groups. The control group was fed the standard diet with at least 17% protein during pregnancy and


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