Cancer remains a significant scientific, clinical and societal challenge and is fast becoming a household name. According to the WHO, on the world Cancer day in 2018, nearly every family in the world is touched by cancer, which is responsible for almost one in six deaths. It was also stated that about 30% -50 % of cancer deaths could be prevented.
Several therapeutic measures have been put in place for cancer management; radiation therapy, chemotherapy and surgery, and these methods have helped to slow down the rate of cancer progression and improve lifespan. However they are still inefficient as to the prevention and possible curation of cancer. There yet remains a gap in the knowledge of the genetic and epigenetic influences on cancer prevention, progression and treatment.
Epigenetics is a relatively new and exciting field the deals with the study of the changes in an organism as a result of the modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself. Nutriepigenetics is an aspect of epigenetics that involves the use of dietary components to elicit the modification of gene expression without the alteration of the genetic code itself. Epigenetic mechanisms underlying nutrition seem very important currently in understanding human health in general.
Cancer is a multi-staged multi-mechanism process that deals with mutation, cell death and epigenetic mechanisms during the stages of initiation, promotion and progression. Due to the fact that is currently impossible to completely eradicate the initiation stage, the best intervention will have to come up at the promotion stage to eliminate pre-malignant cells before they become malignant. And the growth of tumors is dependent on both epigenetics and genetic aberrations that lead to altered gene expressions.
The reversibility of epigenetic changes makes them very promising for cancer therapeutics in the future. Epigenetic alterations are carried out majorly via DNA methylation, Histone modifications and post transcriptional gene regulations by non-coding micro RNAs which are easily influenced by dietary and environment all factors.
Vegetables and fruits are excellent sources of cancer-preventive substances. Dietary polyphenols can potentially impact the above mentioned mechanisms of epigenetic alterations and this in turn contributes to their chemo preventive properties. Epigenetic alterations are heritable in somatic cells but are also potentially reversible which makes it a shining light at the end of the tunnel for cancer preventive and therapeutic strategies.
Epigenetic changes Versus Genetics change
|Potentially reversible||Exist for a lifetime|
|Methylation silenced genes can be demethylated||Methylation silenced genes cannot be demethylated|
|Histone complexes can become active by transcription via nutrients, drugs and other dietary interventions.||Histone complexes cannot become active by transcription via nutrients, drugs and other dietary interventions|
An ideal chemo preventive agent should;
The above requirements can only be fulfilled to a very high extent through nutriepigenetic products.
When we say nutriepigenetics is the ray of light at the end of the tunnel for cancer therapeutics, it really is!
Author: Agi Oka Grace.
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