More than three dozen compounds found in vegetables, fruits and other plant foods can turn on genes that slow the spread of cancer, according to recent review of the research published in Cancer and Metastasis Reviews.
The review by Washington State University researcher Gary Meadows, PhD, a former AICR grantee, focused on recognized genes that suppress metastasis.
Meadows investigated the role of diet and phytochemicals in altering the expression of genes, as opposed to the genes themselves. This relatively new field of study is called epigenetics.
After looking at relevant studies, Meadows documented approximately 40 foods, phytochemicals and nutrients that affect metastasis suppressor genes in some way.
The studies were primarily conducted on cells and animals.
Compounds and foods that affected these genes included vitamin D, lycopene and other carotenoids, curcumin and pomegranate juice. The compounds affected gene expression in breast, colorectal, prostate, lung and other cancers. A nutrient that regulates a suppressor gene in one type of cancer may have no affect on another type, noted Meadows. Also, in some cases a compound in a food may turn one gene on and another compound in that same food may turn it off.
The review helps to clarify the need for future research, the author concluded, with the goal to keep cancer from spreading and help increase cancer survival.
Dott.ssa Etta Finocchiaro
Medico Chirurgo Specialista in Dietologia e Scienza dell’Alimentazione