Epigenetic Changes in Cancer: Role of Environment

  • Zdenko HercegEmail author
  • Paolo Boffetta


It is now recognized that epigenetic heredity is important for understanding the causes of complex diseases such as cancer. Recent discoveries provided strong evidence arguing that epigenetic mechanisms play key roles in virtually all stages of cancer development and progression. A number of critical processes found in cancer cells, such as silencing of tumour suppressor genes, activation of oncogenes, aberrant cell cycle, and defects in DNA repair, can be a consequence of not only genetic but also epigenetic changes. Various environmental agents that are either known or suspected risk factors for human cancer may promote tumorigenesis by eliciting epigenetic changes. Better understanding of the contribution of aberrant epigenetic mechanisms induced by environment may prove critical in the development of novel strategies for cancer prevention.


Environmental epigenetics Epigenetic changes Environment DNA methylation Histone modifications Cancer 



We apologize to colleagues whose relevant publications were not cited due to space limitation. Our work is supported by the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute (NIH/NCI), United States; Association for International Cancer Research (AICR), United Kingdom; Institut National du Cancer (Epigenetic profiling Network, EpiPro), France; L’Association pour la Recherche sur le Cancer (ARC), France; la Ligue Nationale (Française) Contre le Cancer, France; the European Network of Excellence Environmental Cancer Risk, Nutrition and Individual Susceptibility (ECNIS), the Swiss Bridge Award, and the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO).


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© Springer Science+ Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Epigenetics GroupInternational Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)LyonFrance
  2. 2.Lifestyle Environment and Cancer GroupInternational Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)LyonFrance

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