Cancer is second only to accidents as the leading cause in children’s deaths in USA.
Scientists from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University found that fetuses and neonates are sensitive targets for toxic carcinogens but that they could be possibly protected through maternal diets.

The scientists conducted a study with laboratory mice and found that supplements of a key phytochemical found in certain vegetables provided high levels of protection against leukemia and lymphoma in young animals, and against lung cancer in middle aged mice.

This was the first study of its kind to show the possible protective role nutrition may play in protecting against cancer even before the person is born.

There is evidence that certain environmental pollutants called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs could cause DNA damage in newborns and are associated with increased levels of childhood leukemia. These pollutants can be produced by cigarette smoking or the combustion of organic materials such as wood, coal, cooking oil or diesel fuel. These toxins could be passed to the fetus across the placental barrier and during nursing.

In a study, pregnant mice were exposed to a single high dose of a potent carcinogen called dibenzopyrene (PAH) and about 80% of their 100 offspring died early in life from an aggressive T-cell lymphoma and those who survived developed lung tumors later in life.

In another group, in which the pregnant mice were exposed to both the carcinogen and the chemo protective supplement Indole-3-carbinol, or I3C, deaths from lymphoma were cut in half, and the number of lung tumors later in life was also reduced.

It is important to add that the protective compound reached the mice children only through maternal intake during pregnancy and nursing but its protective effects lasted into the animal's middle age.

Since only one out of 10 smokers develops lung cancer, scientists believe that dietary and other factors in addition to smoking may predispose some smokers to getting cancer. The topic needs much deeper investigation since the exposure to carcinogens and the levels of Indole-3-carbinol given to pregnant mice were higher than those that would ordinarily be found in the environment or a normal diet.