Nutritional genomics and disease prevention:
a case for colorectal cancer
Within a regular diet, there are many bioactive compounds that have been shown to exhibit chemopreventative properties. In many cases, this is due to their interactions with the genome, or, moreover, the epigenome. Nutritional genomics is the field of study that aims to elucidate the mechanisms and downstream effects that said bioactive compounds employ with respect to disease. Of the chronic ailments that can be modulated by the diet in such a way, cancer prevention is the most heavily studied, particularly colorectal cancer (CRC). This interest is due to the increased exposure and susceptibility for the colonic microenvironment to be modulated by small molecules in the diet. Understanding these mechanisms and implications in cancer prevention is vital for the future of dietetics and personalized medicine.
*The following case study is entirely theoretical. Its purpose is to illustrate the potential understanding of how dietary constituents can impact the onset and progression of cancer. All patient information in the case study is fictional. Further research is needed for such medical and dietetic advances.
Patient 1 is a fifty-year-old male presented with blood in stool and abdominal pain. A colonoscopy showed an ulcerative non-metastatic tumor. He subsequently underwent surgical extirpation of the tumor. The patient exhibits central obesity with elevated cholesterol, hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes with neuropathy. He has a history of alcohol consumption and smoking. The family history revealed that both his father and uncle died of colorectal cancer and his mother was obese and possessed type II diabetes.