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Br J Nutr. 2006 Oct;96(4):609-19.

Genetic polymorphism of xenobiotic metabolising enzymes, diet and cancer susceptibility.

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  • 1Department of Toxicology and Carcinogenesis, Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, 91-348 Lodz, 8 Teresy St, Poland.


There is increasing evidence identifying the crucial role of numerous dietary components in modifying the process of carcinogenesis. The varied effects exerted by nutrient and non-nutrient dietary compounds on human health and cancer risk are one of the new challenges for nutritional sciences. In the present paper, an attempt is made to review the most recent epidemiological data on interactions between dietary factors and metabolic gene variants in terms of cancer risk. The majority of case-control studies indicate the significant relationship between cancer risk and polymorphic xenobiotic metabolising enzymes in relation to dietary components. The risk of colorectal cancer is associated not only with CYP2E1 high-activity alleles, but also GSTA1 low-activity alleles, among consumers of red or processed meat. Genetic polymorphisms of NAT1 and NAT2 may be also a breast-cancer susceptibility factor among postmenopausal women with a high intake of well-done meat. On the other hand, phytochemicals, especially isothiocyanates, have a protective effect against colorectal and lung cancers in individuals lacking GST genes. Moreover, polymorphism of GSTM1 seems to be involved in the dietary regulation of DNA damage. The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study shows a significant inverse association between the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon-DNA adduct level and dietary antioxidants only among GSTM1-null individuals. However, the absence of a modulatory effect of polymorphic xenobiotic metabolising enzymes and diet on the development of cancer has been indicated by some epidemiological investigations. Studies of interactions between nutrients and genes may have great potential for exploring mechanisms, identifying susceptible populations/individuals and making practical use of study results to develop preventive strategies beneficial to human health.

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