An article entitled “Diet, Nutrition, and Cancer Epigenetics” written by Carmen Sapienza and Jean-Pierre Issa for the Annual Review of Nutrition inform us that diet modifications as a means of epigenetic alterations that increase or decrease cancer risks is largely based on animal models. They argue that:
“the conclusion that diet is linked directly to epigenetic alterations and that these epigenetic alterations directly increase or decrease the risk of human cancer is much less certain. We suggest that true and measurable effects of diet or dietary supplements on epigenotype and cancer risk are most likely to be observed in longitudinal studies and at the extremes of the intersection of dietary risk factors and human population variability.”
“Epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in gene expression (active versus inactive genes) that does not involve changes to the underlying DNA sequence — a change in phenotype without a change in genotype — which in turn affects how cells read the genes. Epigenetic change is a regular and natural occurrence but can also be influenced by several factors including age, the environment/lifestyle, and disease state.”
So what is the link between nutrition and gene expression? Sapienza and Issa (2016) are telling us the jury is still out.