São Paulo, Brazil—Curcumin can play a role in preventing stomach cancer, according to a new study from researchers at the Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP) and the Federal University of Pará (UFPA).

The study, titled “Role of histone acetylation in gastric cancer: implications of dietetic compounds and clinical perspectives,” published inEpigenomics, was based on recent research showing that histone activity could be related to cancer. Histones, explains apress releaseon the study, are proteins in cell nuclei that organize DNA into structural units; Each unit is coiled spool-like around eight histone proteins to compact the DNA so that it fits in the cell. Chemical modification of the histones can affect how a gene is expressed without altering the DNA itself, and can influence the development of different types of cancer.

The scientists at UNIFESP and UFPA set out to identify bioactive compounds that could regulate histones, thus preventing or treating stomach cancer. The press release says that those compounds include:
  • Curcumin
  • Cholecalciferol (a form of vitamin D)
  • Resveratrol
  • Quercetin
  • Garcinol (isolated from the bark of the kokum tree)
  • Sodium butyrate (produced by gut bacteria—a postbiotic)
Danielle Queiroz Calcagno, a professor at UFPA and lead author of the study, said in the release: “These compounds can favor the activation or repression of genes involved in the development of stomach cancer by promoting or inhibiting histone acetylation. We now plan to clarify the anticancer and epigenetic effects of bioactive compounds derived from plants in the Amazon, such as açaí and hogberry, with a view to their future use in the prevention and treatment of stomach cancer.”