Disruption of the epigenome has been a hallmark of human cancers and has been linked with tumor pathogenesis and progression. Since epigenetic changes can be reversed in principle, studies have been carried out to identify modifiable (such as diet and lifestyle) factors, which possess epigenetic property, in hope for developing epigenetically based prevention/intervention strategies. The goal is to achieve some degree of epigenetic reprogramming, which would maintain normal gene expression status and reverse tumorigenesis through chemoprevention or lifestyle intervention such as diet modification. The ability of dietary compounds to act epigenetically in cancer cells has been studied and evidence continues to surface for constituents in food and dietary supplements to influence the epigenome and ultimately individual's risk of developing cancer. In this chapter, we summarized the existing data, both from animal and human studies, on the capacity of natural food products to influence three key epigenetic processes: DNA methylation, histone modification, and microRNA expression. As discussed in the perspective, while diet-based intervention that targets epigenetic pathways is promising, significant challenges remain in translating these scientific findings into clinical or public health practices in the context of cancer prevention.
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