Epigenetic mechanisms of colon cancer prevention: What can nutrition do?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Colon cancer is the fourth most common cause of death from cancer worldwide. Colon cancer occurs as a consequence of the accumulation of abnormal DNA methylation and the disruption of the histone code. The present review summarizes etiology and risk factors of colon cancer and the potential of nutrition to counteract these cancer-related epigenetic alterations. Unlike the genome, epigenetic structure can be reshaped, which has the potential to offer access for the prevention and treatment of cancer by any compounds that directly target the epigenome by influencing the activity or expression of DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs) and histone modifying enzymes. Epigenetic processes are detailed thoroughly and the molecular details of carcinogenesis and colon cancer prevention are reviewed comprehensively. The review also includes specific dietary components, including chromatin modifiers and anti-inflammatory agents, that can directly influence cancer cell growth. Overall, information is still mainly derived from in vitro investigations, and data from animal models or human intervention studies that demonstrate the functional relevance of epigenetic mechanisms for health promoting or cancer preventive efficacy are limited. With the emergence of novel technologies, future research exploring epigenomics will help to better understand the importance of epigenetic mechanisms for nutrition in cancer prevention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMolecular Mechanisms and Physiology of Disease
Subtitle of host publicationImplications for Epigenetics and Health
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9781493907069
ISBN (Print)1493907050, 9781493907052
StatePublished - Feb 1 2014


  • Bioactive
  • Chromatin
  • Diet
  • Histone modifications
  • Inflammation
  • Signal pathway
  • Transcription factor
  • miRNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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