What’s your idea of a perfect meal? Whether you’re into the In-N-Out burger, fries, and milkshake trifecta, or you’re more of a “cleanse” type, the epigenetics enthusiast in you will be interested in a recent review by Trygve Tollefsbol and colleagues that reveals that certain foods contain ingredients that may prevent and treat cancer.
Although each of these “bioactive dietary components” targets multiple players in tumorigenesis, at least some of their anti-cancer abilities probably stem from epigenetic effects. The authors describe how some of these superfoods in Mother Nature’s anti-cancer arsenal shake up epigenetics machinery:
- Tea polyphenols: The catechin EGCG, abundant in green tea beverages, inhibits the DNA methyltransferase DNMT1 and histone acetyltransferases (HATs)
- Cruciferous vegetables: Sulforaphane from veggies such as broccoli, cabbage, and kale inhibits DNMTs and histone deacetylases (HDACs).
- Fava beans, soybeans, kudzu: The isoflavone genistein inhibits DNMTs and HDACs and activates HATs.
- Turmeric: Curcurmin, a yellow pigment in the spice turmeric, inhibits DNMTs, HDACs, and HATs.
- Grapes, berries, peanuts: Resveratrol, a polyphenol made famous for its apparent anti-aging effects in animal models, inhibits DNMTs and activates the HDAC SIRT1.
Many of these dietary components have been linked directly to tumor suppressor gene activation and/or oncogene silencing. So serve yourself up a big helping of turmeric-seasoned broccoli and soybeans, have some grapes for dessert, and wash it all down with a steaming mug of green tea. If you’re still hungry for more, devour this paper at Clin. Epigenetics, December 2010.