We have heard a lot about cancer being caused by abnormal genes. What exactly does this mean? Genes that cause cancer are called oncogenes and genes that help fight and prevent cancers are called tumor suppressor genes. Not great names but we see there is this ON/OFF system of epigenetics again. Turning ON an oncogene will cause cancer. Turning off a tumor suppressor will fight it and cure the cancer. Now think of many of both types. We now can vision a network of oncogenes and tumor suppressors. The combination of which are ON and which are OFF will raise the probability of cancer or the probability of curing it. This system has been at work in our bodies since day 1. It is called epigenetics. How we think and what we eat does trigger epigenetics in our body. Are you triggering oncogenes or tumor suppressors.

Understanding which foods have which nutrients and which nutrients trigger which epigenetic triggers is a field called nutrigenomics. Nutrigenomics is in its infancy but will prove to be invaluable in disease prevention. Robert Avery, MD wrote an article on this called “Cancer, Epigenetics, and Nutrigenomics – How Food Affects Your Cancer Genes”. Dr Avery says: “Epidemiologic studies suggest there are bad foods and good foods. BAD: red meat, processed meat, grilled meat, dairy, animal fat, partially hydrogenated fats. Good: Fish, fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, omega-3 fatty acids, whole grains”. He also says: “Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Bok choi and their anti-cancer effects have been demonstrated in epidemiologic studies. These powerful vegetables not only induce enzymes that break down carcinogens but they also inhibit DNA methylation allowing tumor suppressor genes to thrive. Inhibiting abnormal methylation also helps cruciferous vegetables to inhibit the cancer causing action of tobacco smoke by preventing the formation of nitrosamine-DNA adducts”.

What are you eating and what is it doing to your epigenetics?