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  1. Smeltzer, Amanda
  2. Kim, Young S. PhD


Recent research has shown that a variety of bioactive food components, including both essential and nonessential nutrients, may influence cancer risk and tumor cell behavior by modulating the p53 tumor-suppressor gene pathway. The impact the dietary components have on this pathway likely depends on a host of genetic events that determine whether cells die or proliferate. This determination is made during the cell cycle progression that involves the actions of multiple genes including p21, bax, and bcl-2 as well as p53. Evidence from in vitro studies already exists linking a number of nutrients, including butyrate (an intestinal product of fiber), resveratrol (a phytoalexin found in red grapes), genistein (an isoflavonoid found in soybeans), and epigallocatechin-3-gallate (a polyphenol found in tea), to an increase in apoptosis or a decrease in proliferation of tumor cells. Although these results are promising, more research should be done to examine the efficacy of these compounds and to determine the optimal nutrient concentration needed to effectively prevent human cancers.