Breast Cancer, Genes, Nutrition, and the Ridiculous Backlash Against Melissa Etheridge

December 2, 2014

There has been a chorus of condemnation against Melissa Etheridge. She had the gall to challenge the conventional opinion about the genes associated with breast cancer, BRCA 1&2. The medical world would like us to believe that genetic causes cannot be addressed except through high-tech genetic therapies.


Melissa's crime was to suggest that the BRCA genes could potentially be influenced by diet, the environment and stress. The science says she's absolutely right.


Keep in mind: BRCA performs a protective function. Breast cancers are more likely in women whose BRCA gene is either mutated or suppressed, both of which lead to the gene not producing the beneficial protein it is supposed to make.


Some people are born with the mutations that inactivate BRCA. The suppression, though, is a different story. BRCA gets suppressed through a process called "hypermethylation." In a nutshell, this means that some molecules get stuck to the gene that prevent it from working like it should.


Addressing this problem doesn't mean fixing a mutated gene. It means changing the methylation pattern, a realm commonly referred to as "epigenetics." Diet plays a profound role in epigenetics, to the extent that whole books are being written on this very topic (see here and here for examples).


More specifically, research has shown that nutrients can directly impact BRCA expression, altering its methylation status and allowing hypermethylated BRCA to start working as it should (also see here and here and here).


Melissa should be roundly congratulated for bringing this role of nutrition into public awareness. Oh, and stress as a factor? She's right about that, too. Environmental factors? She's right again.


Melissa Etheridge didn't say that diet cures cancer. She said that gene expression is impacted by diet, stress and the environment. This is a very threatening message to the conventional medical world. It is also complete true.

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