The epigenetics diet and cancer

Cancer has become a household word.  Most people know someone with cancer or someone who has had cancer in the past.  The good news is that new cases of cancer
from all causes in the United States have stabilized since 1999.  The not-so-good news is that certain types of cancer, such as kidney, liver, esophageal, and melanoma are on the rise.

February is National Cancer Prevention Month, a good time to consider one’s risk of
cancer and what can be done to reduce that risk. Eating healthy foods, especially vegetables, is one way to achieve this goal.  That is where the epigenetic diet comes in.

Epigenetics is the concept that characteristics that are acquired during one’s lifetime and not inherited through DNA can be passed on to future generations.

Picture a switch on a radio that turns the device on and off, or turns the volume up and down. The current idea is that, in a like fashion, nutrients in food can affect the way genes work by turning genes off and on or by increasing or decreasing their roles in disease.

Current research suggests that a vegetable-based diet may be the best approach to
influencing our genes in a positive manner.

Studies by Syed Meeran, Ph.D., and Trygve Tollefsbol, Ph.D., D.O., at UAB suggest that a healthy diet based on epigenetic studies include broccoli, cabbage, green tea, grapes, spinach, soy, fava beans, and the spice turmeric. These foods may protect cells and even reverse cellular changes that can lead to cancer and other diseases.

Truly this is exciting research with far-reaching implications. By combining a plant-based diet with exercise, not smoking, limiting alcohol, maintain a healthy weight, wearing sunscreen, and appropriate cancer screenings, we may be able to greatly reduce our risk of certain cancers.

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