Epigenetic Factors to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk – Part 2

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Epigenetic Factors to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk – Part 2

One of the most fascinating areas of breast cancer research has to be the field of epigenetics and how genes can be expressed differently by using external factors, all without altering the DNA structure of those genes. At first ridiculed by the scientific community, epigenetics is now one of the fastest growing fields of science.

Continuing on from Part 1 in my series of epigenetic factors to reduce breast cancer risk, this article will cover the nutrients that help to prevent damage to DNA.


As with many other types of cancer, breast cancer generally begins with something happening to alter the DNA function or structure of just one cell. This can trigger that cell to become malignant and a tumor to form, and that process can take months or years, depending upon hundreds of different factors. Other things that are happening when the tumor is forming (to put it in simplest terms) is that a tumor suppressor gene has become silenced or a tumor promoter gene has been activated and allows unchecked cell replication.

The good news is that many nutrients have the ability to prevent and protect against DNA damage. Here is the list of the best 20.

The Top 20 Nutrients that Prevent DNA Damage

1. Curcumin, derived from turmeric [1], [2], [3], [48]

2. Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), derived from green tea [4], [5], [6], [47], [48]

3. Coenzyme Q10 [7], [8], [9]

4. Di-indolyl-methane (DIM) [10], [11], [48]

5. Coffee [12], [13]

6. N-acetylcysteine (NAC) [14], [15], [23]

7. Melatonin, a natural hormone [16], [17]

8. Lycopene, derived from tomato, watermelon, guava, papaya [18], [19]

9. Pomegranate [20], [21], [22]

10. Resveratrol, derived from grapes, blueberries [23], [24], [25], [48]

11. Selenium [26], [27], [48]

12. Silibinin and silymarin, derived from milk thistle [28], [29], [30], [31], [53]

13. Sulforaphane, derived from cruciferous vegetables [32], [33], [34], [48]

14. Tocotrienols, derived from vitamin E [35], [36], [37], [38]

15. Genistein and diadzein, derived from soybeans [39], [40], [41], [48]

16. Garlic and onions [42], [43], [44], [45], [48]

17. Quercetin [46], [47], [48]

18. Luteolin, derived from celery, oregano, thyme, chili peppers [47], [49], [50], [52]

19. Apigenin, derived from celery, parsley, onions, grapefruit, oranges, chamomile tea [47], [51], [52]

20. Chrysin, derived from passionflower [47], [52], [53]

Mind-Body Interventions Also Play A Role in DNA Repair

A recent study [54] carried out by scientists from Coventry University In the UK and Radboud University in the Netherlands demonstrated that mind-body interventions can have an enormous impact on DNA repair. The study analyzed more than 10 years worth of research studies on how mind-body interventions impact DNA and they found that things like yoga, meditation and Tai Chi can actually reverse the deleterious effects that things like stress and other factors might otherwise have on DNA.

The researchers found that people who regularly practice mind-body interventions enjoy a reduction in the production of inflammatory markers. This in turn leads to a reduction and reversal of pro-inflammatory gene expression, thus lowering  the risk of inflammation-related conditions. And as we know, breast cancer is definitely an inflammatory condition. Have a look at the study, it’s reference #54 below.

While this is not an exhaustive list, it will certainly give you a great idea how many natural substances help to protect DNA and reduce breast cancer risk. For more information on the subject of epigenetic factors that reduce breast cancer risk, please see Part 1 of this series of articles which discussed nutrients that can control regulator genes and stay tuned for upcoming articles in this 12-part series.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please do not attempt to heal cancer using only a few nutrients. Cancer is a complex process and requires a multi-disciplinary approach. It’s always best to work with an oncologist and/or integrative oncologist and/or oncology naturopath and/or functional medicine doctor to achieve the best results.


[1] Curcumin downregulates the inflammatory cytokines CXCL1 and -2 in breast cancer cells via NfkappaB – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17999991

[2] Expression profiles of apoptotic genes induced by curcumin in human breast cancer and mammary epithelial cell lines – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16101141

[3] Curcumin inhibits breast cancer stem cell migration by amplifying the E-cadherin/ß-catenin negative feedback loop – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4445824/

[4] Green tea polyphenol and epigallocatechin gallate induce apoptosis and inhibit invasion in human breast cancer cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18059161

[5] Anticancer effects and molecular mechanisms of epigallocatechin-3-gallate – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5481703/

[6] Mechanism of EGCG promoting apoptosis of MCF-7 cell line in human breast cancer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5588052/

[7] Augmented efficacy of tamoxifen in rat breast tumorigenesis when gavaged along with riboflavin, niacin, and CoQ10: effects on lipid peroxidation and antioxidants in mitochondria – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15766922

[8] Coenzyme Q10 concentrations and antioxidant status in tissues of breast cancer patients – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10936586

[9] Exogenous coenzyme Q10 modulates MMP-2 activity in MCF-7 cell line as a breast cancer cellular model – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3004807/

[10] Inhibitory effects of 3,3′-diindolylmethane on epithelial-mesenchymal transition induced by endocrine disrupting chemicals in cellular and xenograft mouse models of breast cancer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28844962

[11] Chemopreventive properties of 3,3′-diindolylmethane in breast cancer: evidence from experimental and human studies – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5059820/

[12] Coffee consumption rapidly reduces background DNA strand breaks in healthy humans: Results of a short-term repeated uptake intervention study – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26632023

[13] Inhibition of DNA methylation by caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid, two common catechol-containing coffee polyphenols – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16081510

[14] N-acetyl-cysteine promotes angiostatin production and vascular collapse in an orthotopic model of breast cancer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1615662/

[15] N-Acetyl-L-cysteine protects thyroid cells against DNA damage induced by external and internal irradiation – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28871381

[16] Melatonin modulates aromatase activity and expression in endothelial cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23450505

[17] Melatonin modulates aromatase activity in MCF-7 human breast cancer cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15683469

[18] In vitro effects and mechanisms of lycopene in MCF-7 human breast cancer cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28407181

[19] Lycopene acts through inhibition of IkB kinase to suppress NF-kB signaling in human prostate and breast cancer cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26779636

[20] The antioxidant potency of Punica granatum L. Fruit peel reduces cell proliferation and induces apoptosis on breast cancer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21861726

[21] Pomegranate Fruit as a Rich Source of Biologically Active Compounds – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4000966/

[22] Antiproliferative effects of pomegranate extract in MCF-7 breast cancer cells are associated with reduced DNA repair gene expression and induction of double strand breaks – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23359482

[23] Resveratrol and N-acetylcysteine block the cancer-initiating step in MCF-10F cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4425208/

[24] Resveratrol promotes MICA/B expression and natural killer cell lysis of breast cancer cells by suppressing c-Myc/miR-17 pathway – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29029468

[25] Antioxidant activities of novel resveratrol analogs in breast cancer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28960787

[26] Dietary Supplementation with Methylseleninic Acid Inhibits Mammary Tumorigenesis and Metastasis in Male MMTV-PyMT Mice – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29032404

[27] Selenium modifies the osteoblast inflammatory stress response to bone metastatic breast cancer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2791325/

[28] Silibinin suppresses EGFR ligand-induced CD44 expression through inhibition of EGFR activity in breast cancer cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22110198

[29] Silibinin prevents TPA-induced MMP-9 expression by down-regulation of COX-2 in human breast cancer cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19715751

[30] Silibinin inhibits translation initiation: implications for anticancer therapy – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19509268

[31] Silibinin induces protective superoxide generation in human breast cancer MCF-7 cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19968587

[31] Anticarcinogenic effect of a flavonoid antioxidant, silymarin, in human breast cancer cells MDA-MB 468: induction of G1 arrest through an increase in Cip1/p21 concomitant with a decrease in kinase activity of cyclin-dependent kinases and associated cyclins – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9563902

[32] Efficacy of sulforaphane is mediated by p38 MAP kinase and caspase-7 activations in ER-positive and COX-2-expressed human breast cancer cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18090122

[33] Sulforaphane-Induced Cell Cycle Arrest and Senescence are accompanied by DNA Hypomethylation and Changes in microRNA Profile in Breast Cancer Cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5596436/

[34] A Novel Combination of Withaferin A and Sulforaphane Inhibits Epigenetic Machinery, Cellular Viability and Induces Apoptosis of Breast Cancer Cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5455001/

[35] Gamma-tocotrienol controls proliferation, modulates expression of cell cycle regulatory proteins and up-regulates quinone reductase NQO2 in MCF-7 breast cancer cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20683025

[36] Role of Rac1/WAVE2 Signaling in Mediating the Inhibitory Effects of Gamma-Tocotrienol on Mammary Cancer Cell Migration and Invasion – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27904039

[37] Tocotrienols and breast cancer: the evidence to date – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3250526/

[38] Gamma-tocotrienol induced apoptosis is associated with unfolded protein response in human breast cancer cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3123668/

[39] DNA Methylation Targets Influenced by Bisphenol A and/or Genistein Are Associated with Survival Outcomes in Breast Cancer Patients – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5448018/

[40] The Role of Soy Phytoestrogens on Genetic and Epigenetic Mechanisms of Prostate Cancer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26298461

[41] Multi-targeted Therapy of Cancer by Genistein – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2575691/

[42] 2-Methylpyridine-1-ium-1-sulfonate from Allium hirtifolium: An anti-angiogenic compound which inhibits growth of MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cells through cell cycle arrest and apoptosis induction – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28624423

[43] In vitro Antiproliferative and Apoptosis Inducing Effect of Allium atroviolaceum Bulb Extract on Breast, Cervical, and Liver Cancer Cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5281556/

[44] Diallyl trisulfide, a chemopreventive agent from Allium vegetables, inhibits alpha-secretases in breast cancer cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28161636

[45] The Effects of Allicin, a Reactive Sulfur Species from Garlic, on a Selection of Mammalian Cell Lines – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5384165/

[46] Quercetin exerts synergetic anti-cancer activity with 10-hydroxy camptothecin – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28822757

[47] Plant flavonoids in cancer chemoprevention: role in genome stability – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27951449

[48] Cancer Chemoprotection Through Nutrient-mediated Histone Modifications – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5012963/

[49] Luteolin inhibits lung metastasis, cell migration, and viability of triple-negative breast cancer cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5207335/

[50] Luteolin suppresses the metastasis of triple-negative breast cancer by reversing epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition via downregulation of ß-catenin expression – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27959422

[51] Inhibition of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell proliferation and tumor growth by apigenin through induction of G2/M arrest and histone H3 acetylation-mediated p21WAF1/CIP1 expression – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26872304

[52] Dietary Flavones as Dual Inhibitors of DNA Methyltransferases and Histone Methyltransferases – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5033486/

[53] Synergistic Anticancer Effects of Silibinin and Chrysin in T47D Breast Cancer Cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5555536/

[54] What Is the Molecular Signature of Mind–Body Interventions? A Systematic Review of Gene Expression Changes Induced by Meditation and Related Practices – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5472657/

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