Epigenetics is the change in gene expression controlled by environmental factors. A number of studies have started to demonstrate the effect of nutritional effects on gene expression and how it impacts on certain diseases, including cancer. In a recent article in the journal of Nutrition and Cancer researchers examined the effects of diet on gene expression through epigenetic mechanisms. The idea is to define and explain the impact of nutrition to predict the individual’s suspected risk to cancer and to provide dietary recommendations or apply natural therapeutic compounds to battle against cancer.
The researchers in this study have attributed a wide range of dietary components and influences to epigenetic modifications which are heritable and potentially reversible changes in gene expression that do not require changes to the actual DNA sequence. The interaction and identification of compounds and metabolites is a specific and necessary component in identifying the risk factor by which epigenetic changes occur. Along with dietary components, eating patterns, and environmental factors, there are many variables that can complicate studies aiming to identify specific components which might prevent cancer development.
Additional studies are required to explore the effective doses and concentrations of bioactive food components in cancer prevention or treatment. More research is also necessary to determine proper responses for healthy individuals attempting to prevent cancer, as well as individuals with different stages of cancer.
As well as identifying the epigentic changes caused by nutritional intervention the study also highlights the potential that changes in gene expression could be caused by the impact of genetically modified food and the interaction of the modified gene in the human body.
Gordana Supic, Maja Jagodic, Zvonko Magic. Epigenetics: A New Link Between Nutrition and Cancer. Nutrition and Cancer, 2013; 65 (6): 781 DOI: 10.1080/01635581.2013.805794