Recently Dr Dawson Church discussed epigenetics on the Holistic Health Show radio. Recently two research studies on their role in cancer were reported. The link between epigenetics and breast cancer will be briefly discussed here. Science Digest from research that breast cancer running in families and some genetic predisposition such as being BRAC1 and BRAC2 mutation carriers, explains only part of the overall occurrence of breast cancer in families. It has also been shown that epigenetic changes altering gene expression without affecting the DNA also plays a role in this process.
Researchers have examined whether a specific epigenetic modification called methylation of the DNA can be associated with breast cancer family history in unaffected women from high risk breast cancer families. Their research shows that the level of DNA methylation in white blood-cells from cancer-free women could be one of the factors playing a role in the clustering of breast cancer in families with extensive cancer histories among its members.