Nutritional genomic approaches to cancer prevention research

Ross S.A.

Summary. A wealth of evidence points to the diet as one of the most important modifiable determinants of the risk of developing cancer, but a greater understanding of the interaction between diet and genes may help distinguish who will and will not respond to dietary interventions. The term nutrigenomics or nutritional genomics refers to the bidirectional interactions between genes and diet. Nutritional genomics encompasses an understanding about how the response to bioactive food components depends on an individual’s genetic background (nutrigenetics), nutrient induced changes in DNA methylation, histone posttranslational modifications, and other chromatin alterations (nutritional epigenetics), and nutrient induced changes in gene expression (nutritional transcriptomics). These approaches to the study of nutrition will assist in understanding how genetic variation, epigenetic events, and regulation of gene expression alter requirements for, and responses to, nutrients. Recognition of the interplay between genes and diet could ultimately help identify modifiable molecular targets for preventing, delaying, or reducing the symptoms of cancer and other chronic diseases.

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