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Pharmacol Ther. 2013 Apr;138(1):1-17. doi: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2012.11.002. Epub 2012 Nov 16.

Epigenetic modifications by dietary phytochemicals: implications for personalized nutrition.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, The University of Kansas Medical Center, The University of Kansas Cancer Center, 3901 Rainbow Boulevard, Kansas City, KS 66160, USA.


In the last two decades, the study of epigenetic modification emerged as one of the major areas of cancer treatment targeted by dietary phytochemicals. Recent studies with various types of cancers revealed that the epigenetic modifications are associated with the food source corresponds to dietary phytochemicals. The dietary phytochemicals have been used in Asian countries for thousands of years to cure several diseases including cancer. They have been reported to modulate the several biological processes including histone modification, DNA methylation and non-coding microRNA expression. These events play a vital role in carcinogenesis. Various studies suggest that a number of dietary compounds present in vegetables, spices and other herbal products have epigenetic targets in cancer cells. Dietary phytochemicals have been reported to repair DNA damage by enhancing histone acetylation that helps to restrain cell death, and also alter DNA methylation. These phytochemicals are able to modulate epigenetic modifications and their targets to cure several cancers. Epigenetic aberrations dynamically contribute to cancer pathogenesis. Given the individualized traits of epigenetic biomarkers, the personalized nutrition will help us to prevent various types of cancer. In this review, we will discuss the effect of dietary phytochemicals on genetic and epigenetic modifications and how these modifications help to prevent various types of cancers and improve health outcomes.

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