UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Diet as a Potential Moderator for Genome Stability and Immune Response in Pediatric Leukemia Wang, Shanshan; Maxwell, Chris; Akella, Neha Manjari


Pediatric leukemias are the most prevalent cancers affecting children in developed societies, with childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) being the most common subtype. As diet is a likely modulator of many diseases, this review focuses on the potential for diet to influence the incidence and progression of childhood ALL. In particular, the potential effect of diets on genome stability and immunity during the prenatal and postnatal stages of early childhood development are discussed. Maternal diet plays an integral role in shaping the bodily composition of the newborn, and thus may influence fetal genome stability and immune system development. Indeed, higher birth weights of newborns are associated with increased risk of ALL, which suggests in-utero biology may shape the evolution of preleukemic clones. Postnatally, the ingestion of maternal breastmilk both nourishes the infant, and provides essential components that strengthen and educate the developing immune system. Consistently, breast-feeding associates with decreased risk of ALL development. For children already suffering from ALL, certain dietary regimens have been proposed. These regimens, which have been validated in both animals and humans, alter the internal hormonal environment. Thus, hormonal regulation by diet may shape childhood metabolism and immunity in a manner that is detrimental to the evolution or expansion of preleukemic and leukemic ALL clones.

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