Affiliation: Graduate Center for Toxicology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40536, USA.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide. There is greater need for more effective and less toxic therapeutic and preventive strategies. Natural products are becoming an important research area for novel and bioactive molecules for drug discovery. Phytochemicals and dietary compounds have been used for the treatment of cancer throughout history due to their safety, low toxicity, and general availability. Many active phytochemicals are in human clinical trials. Studies have indicated that daily consumption of dietary phytochemicals have cancer protective effects against carcinogens. They can inhibit, delay, or reverse carcinogenesis by inducing detoxifying and antioxidant enzymes systems, regulating inflammatory and proliferative signaling pathways, and inducing cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. Epidemiological studies have also revealed that high dietary intakes of fruits and vegetables reduce the risk of cancer. This review discusses potential natural cancer preventive compounds, their molecular targets, and their mechanisms of actions.