Target BRCA & Cancer-Causing Genes

Posted on Sep 29, 2015 in Research

While the commonness of the BRCA gene has stayed stable for generations, the number of BRCA-caused cancers continues to rise. Why? Because diet and lifestyle guide the expression of the BRCA gene.

What does the BRCA gene do?

BRCA is an “off switch” for damaged cells, which scientists call a tumor suppressor gene. Our bodies make cancer cells all the time. Tumor suppressor genes tag these damaged cells for destruction before a cell can multiply and become a cancer.

I’m a man. Why should I care?

BRCA is one of many tumor suppressor genes. P53 is another, and is mutated in more than 50% of all cancers. Many of the same strategies work to control both genes. BRCA is also involved in some prostate and pancreatic cancers, leukemias, and male breast cancer.

How can I control BRCA gene expression?

  • Celebrate diversity … in the kitchen. 

A wide variety of plant foods may be even more powerful medicine than simply eating a few anti cancer super foods.

Naturopathic oncologist Dr Jacob Schor writes, “This idea struck me while reading Ghadirian et al’s 2009 paper that reported on diet diversity and its effect on BRCA+ carriers’ risk for breast cancer (BC).  This was “… a case-only study … carried out in a French-Canadian population including 738 patients with incident primary BC comprising 38 BRCA mutation carriers. Diet diversity was assessed… [for] case-only odds ratio (COR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) while adjusting for age, body mass index, smoking, hormonal replacement therapy, and total energy intake. …. results reveal a strong and significant interaction between BRCA mutations and vegetable and fruit diversity (COR = 0.27;…) when comparing the upper to the lower quartiles. ….. The results of this study suggest that the combination of BRCA mutations and vegetable and fruit diversity may be associated with a reduced risk of BC.”
Translating all this fancy talk tells us that women who were BRCA + and who ate the greatest variety of vegetables and fruit had a 73% reduction in cancer incidence compared to whose who ate a narrow range of choices…. No longer should we just challenge patients to eat 5-10 servings of fruits or vegetables per day, they should also increase the diversity of these food groups.  Our new question should be, “how many different types of fruit, vegetables, grains and nuts can you eat each week?” ”

Shared with permission. Dr. Schor practices at Denver Naturopathic.

  • Drink green

Green tea regulates expression of the p53 tumor suppressor gene. It also corrects errors in the p53 gene. Choose high polyphenol teas such as matcha or sencha.

  • Get active

Exercise regulates p53 methylation, which is like a “thermostat” for regulating p53 activity. P53 in turn controls BRCA.

  • Eat your gene-regulators

Tumeric root and resveratrol help control BRCA and p53 expression. Turmeric is an orange spice in curry powder. If you don’t like curry, the extract curcumin is available as a supplement. Resveratrol is available in blue and red produce like berries and grapes.

  • Limit alcohol

Alcohol exaggerates the expression of damaged BRCA and p53 genes. Choose to drink delicious non-alcoholic beverages like flavored sparkling water, fruit-infused spa water, herbal tea, or kombucha instead.