Epigenetic Modifications by Diet and Herbs

March 31, 2019 Joe Brady

Recent studies have shown the effect of epigenetic modifications in the development of cancer. Genetic defects interact with DNA methylation, post-translational histone modification, and non-coding RNAs to drive the development of cancer. The use of epigenetic modifications are seen as promising cancer preventive/therapeutic agents. Several epigenetic therapies have recently been approved in the treatment of cancer. Recent studies studies have indicated that dietary phytochemicals might exert cancer chemopreventive effects by targeting epigenetic mechanisms. In a review of the latest findings, researchers highlight the potential of targeting these mechanisms to treat/prevent cancer.

Advances in our understanding of epigenetic alterations are now being shown to be involved all cancer types and combined with genetics defects drive the development of cancer. Much more research needs to be done to study the complexity of epigenetic pathways before we can fully apply our current understanding to the clinical field. However we do not need to wait for more research to benefit now from eating your veggies. We now know that grandma was right and fruits, veggies herbs and spices are good for you and further studies may facilitate the development of epigenetic in preventing and treating cancer.


Curr Pharmacol Rep. 2015 Aug; 1(4): 245–257. Current Perspectives on Epigenetic Modifications by Dietary Chemopreventive and Herbal Phytochemicals Yue Guo,a,b Zheng-Yuan Su,b and Ah-Ng Tony Kongb,* to read the entire article https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26328267

The following is a list of some of the foods and herbs that have been shown to effect the expression of genes involved in cancer

Phytochemical Sources and what effect they have on cancer

Citrus fruits, onion, parsley, berries, Quercetin, 

Suppressed the growth of colon cancer cells and pancereatic ductal adenocarcinoma cells, reduced COX-2 expression in breast cancer cells, induced apoptosis in human leukemia HL-60 cells, induced senescence in glioma cells

Parsley, celery, chamomile tea, Apigenin 

Activated Nrf2 pathway in skin epidermal JB6 P+ cells, induced growth arrest and apoptosis in human prostate cancer cells and malignant neuroblastoma cells

Tea leaves, (−)-Epigallocatech in-3-gallate (EGCG) 

Restored the expression of WIF-1 in lung cancer cells, reactivated ERα, PRB, TMS1, cyclin D2, and MGMT gene in MCF-7 cells, reactivated p16INK4a and Cip1/p21 in A431 cells, delayed breast cancer progression and invasion, reduced proliferation rate and anchorage-independent growth of lung cancer cells

Soy beans Genistein 

Increased expression of ATM, APC, PTEN, and SERPINB5 in breast cancer cells, activated sFRP1, Smad4, inhibited proliferation of prostate cancer cells, enhanced apoptosis of pancreatic cancer cells

Blueberries, cranberries, Grapes, Resveratrol 

Inhibited prostate cancer growth and metastasis, promoted the apoptosis of pancreatic cancer cells

Broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts Sulforaphane (SFN)

Restored Nrf2 expression, reduced breast tumor growth, inhibited proliferation of LnCap cells, inhibited EMT process in human bladder cancer T24 cells

Cruciferous vegetables Phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) 

Reactivated GSTP1 in LnCap cells, reduced inflammation-related genes in SW480 cells, inhibited prostate cancer cell growth

Curcumin Turmeric Yu Jin

Restored the expression of Nrf2 and Neurog 1 in TRAMP C1 and LnCap cells, restored the expression of SOCS1 and SOCS3 in K562 and HEL cells, inhibited cell proliferation of MCF-7 cells, induced apoptosis of SKOV3 cells, suppressed the expression of CXCL1 and CXCL2 in breast cancer cells

Garlic Diallyl disulfide (DADS) 

Enhanced apoptosis in human gastric cells and xenograft models.

Broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts 3, 3′-Diindolylmeth ane (DIM) 

Exerted chemopreventive effects in prostate tumorigenesis by up-regulating Nrf2, triggered cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in HT29 cells, inhibited cell proliferation in MCF-7 and MDA-MB-468 cells, attenuated prostate cancer aggressiveness

Ginseng Compound K 

Reactivated RUNX3 and inhibited the proliferation of HT29 cells

Ginseng Ginsenoside Rh2 

 Inhibited the proliferation of human glioma cells

Radix angelicae sinensis (Danggui) Z-Ligustilide (Lig) 

Restored Nrf2 expression in TRAMPC1 cells

Salvia miltiorrhiza, (Danshen) Tanshinone IIA 

Blocked TPA-mediated JB6 transformation through restoration of Nrf2 signaling, decreased inflammatory responses in LPS-induced macrophages

Salvia miltiorrhiza, (Danshen) Tanshinone I 

Triggered cell cycle arrest in breast cancer cells

Salvia miltiorrhiza, (Danshen) Tanshindiols 

Inhibited the growth of cancer cell lines

Boswellia serrata Boswellic acids 

Restored the expression of SAMD14 and SMPD3 in colon cancer cells, inhibited growth of colon cancer xenografts in nude mice

Apples, berries, Thyme, rosemary Ursolic acid 

Suppressed proliferation of human glioma cell line

To find out more about any of these herbs contact the Barefoot Doctor at https://www.barefootdoctorsjournal.org/contact-us/