Epigenetic Factors to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk – Part 3

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Epigenetic Factors To Reduce Breast Cancer Risk – Part 3

In this series of articles, it is my goal to empower you with information about the epigenetic factors that can be used to not only reduce breast cancer risk, but also to help heal yourself from breast cancer if you have had the misfortune of a diagnosis.

For more information on my personal reasons for putting this information together, see Part 1 of the series.

This article, Part 3 in the series, will cover the nutrients that prevent rapid cell proliferation. Proliferation means a rapid increase in the number or amount of something, and in this case it means cancer cells. Their ability to multiply and rapidly grow is one of the hallmarks of cancer. Many anti-cancer drugs such as chemotherapy target this very thing. Unfortunately, however, these drugs come at a price because they don’t just target rapidly growing cancer cells, they target every cell that is rapidly growing. The beauty of epigenetic nutrients is that they don’t target healthy cells that are rapidly growing – they leave them alone.


The nutrients listed below are capable of blocking the continuous multiplication of the cellular replication cycle, thus stopping or slowing cancer cell growth. Few of them have been included in human trials, so we don’t have exact doses, but we can certainly include them as part of a healthy anti-cancer diet.

Alpha linolenic acid, derived from chia, flaxseed, hemp seeds, pecans, pistachio nuts, pumpkin seeds, walnuts [1]
Apigenin, derived from celery, parsley, onions, grapefruit, oranges  [2], [3]
Berberine, derived from goldenseal, barberry, Oregon grape, Huang bai, tree turmeric [4], [5]
Beta-sitosterol, derived from rice bran, pistachio nuts, walnuts, almonds, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds [6]
Caffeic acid, derived from adzuki beans, apples, apicots, buckwheat bran, brown rice, chia seeds, chickpeas, coffee, hazelnuts, lentils, sunflower seeds [7]. Caffeic acid also reduces the growth of cancer stem cells [8].
Catechin and epicatechin, derived from adzuki beans, almonds, apricots, bilberries, chickpeas, green beans, green tea, lentils, pecans [9] [10].
Chlorophyll, derived from all green plants, pumpkin seeds, fresh herbs, blue-green algae, sprouts, wheatgrass, matcha tea, sea weed, grapes, green beans [11] .
Curcumin, derived from turmeric [12].
Delphinidin, derived from black beans, blackcurrants  [13].
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), derived from chia seeds, flaxseed, hemp seeds [14].
Ellagic acid, derived from apples, raspberries, black raspberries, blackberries, Brazil nuts, pecans, walnuts, pomegranates, wild strawberries, cranberries [15].
Enterolactone, derived from steel cut oats, flaxseed [16].
Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), derived from green tea [17].
Eugenol, derived from cinnamon, clove [18], [19].
Ferulic acid, derived from apricots, grapes, rice bran, brown rice, black beans, chickpeas, dong quai, hazelnuts, sesame seeds [20], [21]. 16. Formononetin, derived from red clover  [22].
Jasmonic acid, derived from apples, chickpeas, jasmine essential oil  [23].
Juglone, derived from walnuts [24].
Kaempferol, derived from black beans, chickpeas, chia seeds, green beans, lentils [25].
Lectins, derived from Anasazi beans and other beans, mushrooms [26].
Lutein, derived from kale, broccoli, pecans, pistachio nuts, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, green beans  [27].
Lycopene, derived from apricots, tomatoes [28], [29].
Medicinal Mushrooms – many medicinal mushrooms (such as reishi, turkey tail, shiitake, etc) have anti-proliferatory properties, see my article  Medicinal Mushrooms – Fungi That Fight Cancer Cells to see which ones.
Melatonin, derived from black rice, walnuts, barley, bananas [30].
Momilactone B, derived from brown rice [31].
Protocatechuic acid, derived from acai, adzuki beans, apples, avocados, brown rice, hazelnuts, pistachio nuts, bilberries, blackberries, blueberries, buckwheat, cauliflower, dates, eggplant, garlic, kiwi, lentils, mango, mangosteen, mulberries, olive oil, olives, pears, raspberries, red onion, strawberries [32].
Pterostilbene, derived from blueberries, cranberries, lingonberries, grapes [33].
Quercetin, derived from adzuki beans, apples, apricots, bilberries, black beans, chickpeas, chia seeds, green beans, lentils [34].
Saponins, derived from amaranth, asparagus, black beans, green beans, sunflower seeds, soybeans, oats, spinach, chickpeas, quinoa, tomatoes, Panax ginseng  [35], [36].
Selenium, derived from wheat germ, wheat bran, Brazil nuts, pecans, brewer’s yeast, broccoli, brown rice, chicken, garlic, kelp, lentils, liver, molasses, onions, salmon, seafood, vegetables, whole grains, chickpeas, pistachio nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts [37].
Sesamin and sesamol, derived from sesame seeds [38].
Sinapic acid, derived from brown rice, citrus fruits, lentils, sunflower seeds [39].
Sulforaphane, derived from cruciferous vegetables [40].
Syringic acid, derived from walnuts, chard, molasses, millet [41].
Triticuside A, derived from wheat bran [42].
Vitamin E, derived from black rice, brown rice, cashews, chickpeas, lentils, pecans, pistachio nuts, sesame seeds, walnuts, green beans, rice bran, wheat bran [43].

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, there are likely many other substances that will prevent rapid cell proliferation. But this will definitely get you started in the right direction!

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.

For more information on other epigenetic factors that reduce breast cancer risk, please see:
Part 1 nutrients that can control regulatory genes
Part 2 nutrients that can reduce damage to DNA
and stay tuned for upcoming articles in this 12-part series.


[1] a-Linolenic Acid Reduces Growth of Both Triple Negative and Luminal Breast Cancer Cells in High and Low Estrogen Environments – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26134471

[2] Exposure of breast cancer cells to a subcytotoxic dose of apigenin causes growth inhibition, oxidative stress, and hypophosphorylation of Akt – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25019465

[3] Induction of caspase-dependent extrinsic apoptosis by apigenin through inhibition of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) signalling in HER2-overexpressing BT-474 breast cancer cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4708008/

[4] Berberine Enhances Chemosensitivity and Induces Apoptosis Through Dose-orchestrated AMPK Signaling in Breast Cancer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28775788

[5] Interaction of Herbal Compounds with Biological Targets: A Case Study with Berberine – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3504405/

[6] Beta-Sitosterol, Beta-Sitosterol Glucoside, and a Mixture of Beta-Sitosterol and Beta-Sitosterol Glucoside Modulate the Growth of Estrogen- Responsive Breast Cancer Cells In Vitro and in Ovariectomized Athymic Mice – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15113961

[7] Antiproliferative and apoptotic effects of selective phenolic acids on T47D human breast cancer cells: potential mechanisms of action – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC400651

[8] Blockage of TGFß-SMAD2 by demethylation-activated miR-148a is involved in caffeic acid-induced inhibition of cancer stem cell-like properties in vitro and in vivo – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4475776/

[9] Breast cancer chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic effects of Camellia Sinensis (green tea): an updated review – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5410915

[10] Suppressive Effects of Tea Catechins on Breast Cancer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4997373/

[11] The chlorophyllin-induced cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in human breast cancer MCF-7 cells is associated with ERK deactivation and Cyclin D1 depletion – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16142413

[12] Curcumin Suppresses Proliferation and Migration of MDA-MB-231 Breast Cancer Cells through Autophagy-Dependent Akt Degradation – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4708990/

[13] Delphinidin inhibits cell proliferation and invasion via modulation of Met receptor phosphorylation – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2989819/

[14] Eicosapentaenoic acid suppresses cell proliferation in MCF-7 human breast cancer xenografts in nude rats via a pertussis toxin-sensitive signal transduction pathway – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16140887

[15] Ellagic acid induces cell cycle arrest and apoptosis through TGF-ß/Smad3 signaling pathway in human breast cancer MCF-7 cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25647396

[16] Estrogen-induced angiogenic factors derived from stromal and cancer cells are differently regulated by enterolactone and genistein in human breast cancer in vivo – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19924815

[17] EGFR inhibition by (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate and IIF treatments reduces breast cancer cell invasion – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5434892/

[18] Eugenol Triggers Apoptosis in Breast Cancer Cells Through E2F1/survivin. Down-regulation – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3931838/

[19] Chemosensitivity of MCF-7 cells to eugenol: release of cytochrome-c and lactate dehydrogenase – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5341120/

[20] Lipophilic caffeic and ferulic acid derivatives presenting cytotoxicity against human breast cancer cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21504213

[21] Antiproliferative and apoptotic effects of selective phenolic acids on T47D human breast cancer cells: potential mechanisms of action – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC400651/

[22] Formononetin induces cell cycle arrest of human breast cancer cells via IGF1/PI3K/Akt pathways in vitro and in vivo – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21932171/

[23] Plant stress hormones suppress the proliferation and induce apoptosis in human cancer cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11960340

[24] Effect of Pin1 inhibitor juglone on proliferation, migration and angiogenic ability of breast cancer cell line MCF7Adr – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26223922

[25] Kaempferol, a Flavonoid Compound from Gynura Medica Induced Apoptosis and Growth Inhibition in MCF-7 Breast Cancer Cell – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5566146/

[26] A Hemagglutinin from Northeast Red Beans with Immunomodulatory Activity and Anti-proliferative and Apoptosis-inducing Activities Toward Tumor Cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5300056/

[27] Selective Carotenoid Growth Inhibition in Breast Cancer: Independence of Hormonal Sensitivity – http://www.fasebj.org/content/29/1_Supplement/32.3.short

[28] Selective inhibition of cell proliferation by lycopene in MCF-7 breast cancer cells in vitro: a proteomic analysis – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22718574

[29] Selective Carotenoid Growth Inhibition in Breast Cancer: Independence of Hormonal Sensitivity – http://www.fasebj.org/content/29/1_Supplement/32.3.short

[30] Melatonin receptors, melatonin metabolizing enzymes and cyclin D1 in human breast cancer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21385053

[31] Enhancement of hypoxia-induced apoptosis of human breast cancer cells via STAT5b by momilactone B – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18695876

[32] Antiproliferative and apoptotic effects of selective phenolic acids on T47D human breast cancer cells: potential mechanisms of action – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC400651/

[33] Pterostilbene simultaneously induces apoptosis, cell cycle arrest and cyto-protective autophagy in breast cancer cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3276376/

[34] Quercetin induces apoptosis and necroptosis in MCF-7 breast cancer cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28814095

[35]  Saponins as cytotoxic agents: a review – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2928447/

[36] Anti-proliferating effects of ginsenoside Rh2 on MCF-7 human breast cancer cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10200336

[37] Selenium and Breast Cancer Risk: Focus on Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0065230X17300374 /

[38] Effect of sesamin on apoptosis and cell cycle arrest in human breast cancer mcf-7 cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25987037

[39] Antiproliferative and apoptotic effects of selective phenolic acids on T47D human breast cancer cells: potential mechanisms of action – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC400651/

[40] Sulforaphane–a possible agent in prevention and therapy of cancer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21160094/

[41] Phenolic and carotenoid profiles and antiproliferative activity of foxtail millet – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25529711

[42] Triticuside A, a Dietary Flavonoid, Inhibits Proliferation of Human Breast Cancer Cells via Inducing Apoptosis – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23909734

[43]  Inhibitory Effects of Gamma- and Delta-Tocopherols on Estrogen- Stimulated Breast Cancer In Vitro and In Vivo – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28096236 /

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2 thoughts on “Epigenetic Factors to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk – Part 3

  1. Thanks Marnie! Such a long and comprehensive list! I’m trying to incorporate a lot of these into my new ( post HER2+)diet supported by my vegan daughter 🙂 Interesting too that unless I’m mistaken , they are nearly all plant based, some seafood but no dairy or meat in sight! Thanks for your wonderful informative website, I refer to it almost daily and if your ears are burning, I quote you frequently too. Best wishes, Julie

    1. Dear Julie,
      Thanks so much for your comment and for that info. I’m glad to hear that my info has been helpful and I do appreciate the good wishes and cheery remarks. Thank you!
      Big hugs,

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