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Mech Ageing Dev. 2003 Dec;124(10-12):989-98.

Aging, cancer and nutrition: the DNA methylation connection.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of Alabama at Birmingham,Birmingham, AL 35294-1170, USA.


Cancer and aging are two coupled developmental processes as reflected by the higher incidence of cancer in the elderly human population group. Genetic mutations accumulate in somatic cells with age, which may explain in part the association of age with cancer. Epigenetic mechanisms are also frequently involved in controlling gene functions during development and tumorigenesis. A common molecular feature associated with both aging and tumorigenesis is global hypomethylation of the genomic DNA. The contributing mechanisms underlying this hypomethylation are not yet well understood. Epigenetic investigation of cancer and aging has recently emerged as a fruitful area of study and has added exciting insights into some of the mysteries surrounding aging and cancer. Recent studies have also shown that dietary factors can modulate DNA methylation and thereby contribute to aging and tumorigenesis. Thus, DNA methylation provides an important common link between aging, cancer and nutrition.

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