Diet to Prevent Cancer, Alzheimer’s

United Press International


An epigenetic eating regimen uses specific food compounds to prevent cancer or Alzheimer’s disease, University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers said.

Epigenetics is the science of how environmental influences (including nutrition) affect and change our genes.

Study co-author Trygve Tollefsbol said epigenetics research worldwide, including numerous studies conducted at the University of Alabama, have identified specific food compounds found in food such as broccoli and cabbage inhibit negative epigenetic effects that can help reverse or help prevent cancers and other aging-related diseases.

“Your mother always told you to eat your vegetables, and she was right,” Tollefsbol said in a statement. “But now we better understand why she was right — compounds in many of these foods suppress gene aberrations that over time cause fatal diseases.”

The epigenetics diet includes such foods as soybeans, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, green tea, fava beans, kale, grapes and the spice turmeric, Tollefsbol said.

“The epigenetics diet can be adopted easily, because the concentrations of the compounds needed for a positive effect are readily achievable,” lead author Syed Meeran said.

Meeran said sipping tea compounds called polyphenols in daily amounts that are equivalent to approximately three cups of green tea has been shown to reverse breast cancer in laboratory mice by suppressing the gene that triggers the disease. A daily cup of broccoli sprouts, which has sulforaphane as an active compound, has been shown to reduce the risk of developing many cancers, Tollefsbol said.

The review is published in the journal Clinical Epigenetics.

Dr. Jonny Comments:

Epigenetics is the study of how genes are affected by things in the environment. As readers of this newsletter know, genes are not destiny, contrary to popular belief. Genes are more like light switches- they have to be turned on or turned off in order to “express” themselves (i.e. light the room). Our choices have a great deal to do with whether or not certain genes get “turned on” or “turned off”.

For example, let’s say that scientists discovered a gene that increases your risk for lung cancer when you smoke. And for the sake of this discussion, let’s say that a smoker who has this gene has a 50% higher risk of getting lung cancer than a smoker who doesn’t have the gene. But if you have that gene- and you never smoke— it just doesn’t matter.

Nutrition has a huge influence on our genes. The science of studying how nutrients can specifically interact with genes to turn them “on” or “off” is called nutrigenomics. Nutrients can “turn on” the light switches (or leave them untouched, much like not smoking leaves the “cancer” gene untouched in the above example).

The research discussed above simply shows the power of certain nutrients (like the indoles in broccoli and cabbage, for example) to profoundly affect both genes and disease.

Remember, genes loads the gun; but environment pulls the trigger.

With a very very few exceptions, genes are not destiny. The course of your life is in your own hands, and in 99% of all cases, the choices you make trump the genes you were given.




  1. Blast

    Speaking as someone with a background in genetics and an interest in health it’s very heartening to see the field of epigenetics moving into public vision. Yet another step into the direction of looking at the whole picture instead of thinking everything is determined by one “master” part (genes).

  2. Suzie Wade

    Thank you for your wonderful books and your e-mails. i discovered a lump in my breast 4 years ago and it never occurred to me to go to a doctor to get my breast taken off. the lump is receding — every now and then i have a lapse and eat things i shouldn’t and the process slows. But i am on the wagon again and feeling fine. keep doing what you are doing. i need it!!!

  3. Maryann

    Hi Jonny,
    Would you please comment about the genotype diet by Dr. Peter D’Adamo?
    Is this a good idea instead of the one size fits all for diet?
    Thanks so much. Always enjoy your information.