Nutrigenomics is the idea that studying diet-gene interactions can help identify the positive or detrimental effects of dietary compounds. For example, nutrigenomics can explain why eating rancid or oxidized omega-fats and refined sugar encourages inflammation and cancer growth.
It is important to understand that a diet rich in omega-3 fats can reduce inflammation in cancer. So can healthy omega-6 fats like gamma linoleic acid (GLA), found in evening primrose, black currant seed, and borage oil. GLA inhibits the action of the cancer gene HER-2/neu, which is overexpressed in 30 percent of all breast cancers, making them particularly lethal.
According to Donnie Yance, clinical master herbalist and certified nutritionist, chronic conditions such as cancer and cardiovascular disease have a strong link with chronic inflammation, which promotes the production of free radicals.
The transcription protein Nuclear Factor-kappa Beta (NfKB) is a major inducer of inflammation. In cancer, a mutation in the tumor suppressor gene PTEN (phosphatase and tensin homologue) is the likely driver that activates NfKB.
Some plant-based phytocompounds can enhance PTEN expression or inhibit PTEN mutation, including quercetin, resveratrol, and various isoflavones often referred to as phytoestrogens. An ever-growing body of evidence suggests that the use of these compounds can and should play an important role in cancer prevention and treatment.
NfKB modulation is an important target for cancer prevention and treatment. NfKB can be modulated by:
The curcumin in tumeric
Stilbenes such as the resveratrol found in grape skins
The proathocyanidins in grape seeds
Catechins such as EGCG, which is present in green tea
The ursolic acid in holy basil, also called Tulsi, and rosemary
NfKB can also be modulated by a number of other plant-based compounds. For more information, please read Donald Yance’s full paper linked below.
Donald “Donnie” Yance is a clinical master herbalist, certified nutritionist and the author of Herbal Medicine Healing and Cancer. He conducts his practice at the Centre for Natural Healing in Ashland, OR utilizing his unique integrative model known as the Eclectic Triphasic Medical System. Donnie is also the founder and president of the Mederi Foundation for professional education and research and Nautra Health Products where he formulates advanced botanical and nutritional products.
NF-κB is important in regulating cellular responses because it belongs to the category of “rapid-acting” primary transcription factors, i.e., transcription factors that are present in cells in an inactive state and do not require new protein synthesis in order to become activated (other members of this family include transcription factors such as c-Jun, STATs, and nuclear hormone receptors). This allows NF-κB to be a first responder to harmful cellular stimuli. Known inducers of NF-κB activity are highly variable and include reactive oxygen species (ROS), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα), interleukin 1-beta (IL-1β), bacterial lipopolysaccharides (LPS), isoproterenol, cocaine, and ionizing radiation.
Receptor activator of NF-κB (RANK), which is a type of TNFR, is a central activator of NF-κB. Osteoprotegerin (OPG), which is a decoy receptor homolog for RANK ligand (RANKL), inhibits RANK by binding to RANKL, and, thus, osteoprotegerin is tightly involved in regulating NF-κB activation.
Many bacterial products and stimulation of a wide variety of cell-surface receptors lead to NF-κB activation and fairly rapid changes in gene expression. The identification of Toll-like receptors (TLRs) as specific pattern recognition molecules and the finding that stimulation of TLRs leads to activation of NF-κB improved our understanding of how different pathogens activate NF-κB. For example, studies have identified TLR4 as the receptor for the LPS component of Gram-negative bacteria. TLRs are key regulators of both innate and adaptive immune responses.
NF-κB (nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells) is a protein complex that controls transcription of DNA, cytokine production and cell survival. NF-κB is found in almost all animal cell types and is involved in cellular responses to stimuli such as stress, cytokines, free radicals, heavy metals,ultraviolet irradiation, oxidized LDL, and bacterial or viral antigens. NF-κB plays a key role in regulating the immune response to infection (κ light chains are critical components of immunoglobulins). Incorrect regulation of NF-κB has been linked to cancer, inflammatory andautoimmune diseases, septic shock, viral infection, and improper immune development. NF-κB has also been implicated in processes ofsynaptic plasticity and memory.