You can turn off your cancer genes – here’s how

In September 2015, Monica was diagnosed with breast cancer, which was already in the intermediate stage. Monica was an identical twin and her 38-year-old sister Erika had also had regular mammograms and ultrasounds but never found cancer. In Monica’s left breast, a tumor had grown to the size of a tennis ball and the cancerous cells had spread to her lymph nodes.

These twins share the same genes, so why did one develop cancer and the other did not?

We have always thought that it is the genes, our DNA, that determine everything about us. In fact, there is another decisive factor: the “switch” of the genes. To put it this way, a gene determines that two twins have the same necklace, but the gene’s “switch” determines whether or not they wear it, when they wear it, and how long they wear it.

The key to determining whether this gene is on or off is the epigenetic factor.

Each person’s DNA is fixed. DNA is determined when the father’s sperm joins the mother’s egg. There are about 200 types of cells in the body, but they have the same DNA.

However, the same DNA creates different types of cells through epigenetic factors, and the differences between these cells are huge.

Similarly, epigenetic factors can also favor the generation or not of cancerous cells.

In the human body, there are about 50 trillion cells, and each cell contains about 6 feet of DNA. The reason such long genes can fit into a cell’s nucleus is because of the way DNA is wrapped.

The coils around which DNA is wound are called histones. A piece of DNA must be wrapped around 30 million of these coils. In the diagram, each of the circular coils represents a histone, and the threads surrounding it are DNA.

Epigenetic factors can bind to the “tails” of histones or to DNA. They are attached to histones or DNA-like tags.

Epigenetic factors (methyl groups) that bind to DNA can directly “turn off” genes.

Epigenetic factors also control the state of DNA entanglement on histones. It can make genes wrap tightly around histones in a compressed state. At this point, gene expression is suppressed and the body is unable to read these genes. The genes are in the “off” state.

They can also loosen DNA strands wrapped around histones. The loosened DNA is no longer deleted, so the body can then read this DNA information. This means that the genes are in an “on” state.

Changes in epigenetic factors can ultimately determine whether or not a person has a particular disease. For example, after an epigenetic factor is turned off, the gene for a protein that inhibits cancer cannot be expressed, so that protein is no longer produced, and then a tumor forms. However, if the gene is left in place, it can prevent the tumor from appearing.

Activate good genes and deactivate bad ones to avoid cancer and genetic diseases

We cannot change our genes. So how can we turn on the good genes and turn off the bad ones to prevent cancer from developing?

Diet, alcohol, tobacco and drug use, psychological stress and living environment all have an impact on epigenetic factors. They affect genes in two main ways: DNA methylation and histone modification.

More and more studies have shown that diet is the key to controlling gene expression.

A methyl group is an epigenetic factor that can enter cells through diet, and when it is labeled on DNA, it is called DNA methylation.

Methyl groups can turn genes off. In normal cells, oncogenes are deactivated by methyl groups and remain silent; cancer suppressor genes are not methylated, so they are activated. In cancer cells, the opposite is true.

Another approach, histone modification, has a similar logic.

In short, when cancer-fighting foods are eaten, their ultimate goal is the same regardless of how they affect genes: deactivating oncogenes and activating cancer suppressor genes.

Nutrients and foods that alter gene expression to fight cancer

Polyphenols are found in fruits and vegetables, and they protect the body against disease. Dietary polyphenols modify the epigenetic factors of cancer cells, in particular by the activation of silent genes, thus fighting against cancer.

Catechins are tea polyphenols, which are the most abundant bioactive compounds in green tea, accounting for over 50% of the active compounds it contains, and their anticancer effects have been widely studied.

Catechins can prevent the methylation of cancer suppressor genes. Once these genes are heavily methylated, they become inactive and can no longer act as cancer inhibitors. Intake of catechins protects the activity of beneficial genes and forces cells to produce cancer-fighting proteins to fight and treat cancer.

A study by researchers at the University of New Jersey was published in Cancer Research. He demonstrated that green tea catechins can inhibit DNA methylation and reactivate cancer suppressor genes that had been silenced by high methylation, in cancer cells of the colon, skin, esophagus and prostate.

Another study published in the journal Carcinogenesis showed that catechins had the same modulating effect on DNA methylation in skin cancer cells.

In addition, a large number of studies have shown that the ingestion of catechin has a significant inhibitory effect on cancer cells of the oral cavity, breasts, stomach, ovaries and pancreas.

Resveratrol is a plant polyphenol naturally present in the skin of grapes. Fruits like blackberries, cranberries, blueberries and peanuts also contain resveratrol.

Resveratrol has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties, and affects signaling pathways that control cell division, growth, and apoptosis, as well as cancer cell metastasis. The anti-proliferative property of resveratrol has been demonstrated in liver, skin, breast, prostate, lung and colorectal cancer cells.

Researchers from the University of Arizona have found that resveratrol prevents the epigenetic silencing of cancer suppressor proteins in breast cancer cells.

Scientists from the National Institutes of Health have demonstrated that resveratrol can inhibit the expression of anti-apoptotic proteins in breast cancer cells, thereby inducing apoptosis or cell death of cancer cells. Therefore, these researchers concluded that resveratrol is an excellent choice for targeted breast cancer therapy.

Many people are familiar with soy isoflavones in soy and soy products, which are a type of isoflavones. Isoflavones are also found in foods such as fava beans and the root of the kudzu vine.

Soy isoflavones are a type of phytoestrogen. Its anticancer and anti-cancer properties are reflected in its effect on histone modification and DNA methylation, thereby regulating gene transcription ability.

Studies have shown that soy isoflavones can reactivate the expression of cancer suppressor genes in prostate cancer cells. It has also been discovered that soy isoflavones and other isoflavones can regulate the expression of non-coding RNAs in several types of cancer cells.

Researchers at the University of Missouri conducted a human cancer trial using soy isoflavones. Thirty-four healthy premenopausal women were given 40 mg or 140 mg of isoflavones daily during a menstrual cycle, and the researchers then assessed genetic changes in these people. The results showed that taking isoflavones caused hypermethylation of two breast cancer-related genes and silenced these breast cancer genes.

Isothiocyanate is a dietary compound found in cruciferous vegetables (including broccoli, cabbage, kale, and collard greens). It inhibits the growth of cancer cells and exhibits the ability to promote cancer cell apoptosis.

In a human study conducted at Oregon State University, the consumption of 68 g of broccoli sprouts was shown to inhibit histone deacetylase activity in peripheral blood mononuclear cells, thereby enabling cancer prevention. In addition, researchers from another university in the United States have demonstrated through cell culture experiments that isothiocyanates can inhibit methyltransferases in breast cancer cells and suppress the hTERT gene, which is overexpressed in approximately 90% of cancers. .

In addition, several nutritional elements can control and treat cancer. A review in the journal Epigenomics concluded that the following nutrients and foods can alter epigenetic factors in two ways.

Foods that fight cancer by regulating DNA methylation: selenium (Brazil nuts), isothiocyanates (broccoli), catechins (green tea), resveratrol (grapes) and isoflavones (soybeans).

Foods that fight cancer by modulating histone modification: isoflavones (soybeans), curcumin (curry), catechins (green tea), resveratrol (grapes), isothiocyanates (broccoli), selenium (Brazil nuts) and allyl mercaptan (garlic).

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