Cruciferous vegetables and cancer prevention

Nutr Cancer. 2001;41(1-2):17-28. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2001.9680607.


In recent years, cancer prevention by natural products has received considerable attention. The potential protective role of cruciferous vegetables and active components present in these vegetables, such as isothiocyanates and indole-3-carbinol, has been extensively studied in experimental in vitro and in vivo carcinogenesis models. Results have consistently shown that the chemopreventive agents derived from this class of vegetables of the Cruciferae family influence carcinogenesis during initiation and promotion phases of cancer development. Similarly, reports from epidemiological studies and clinical trials support this notion. However, there is no comprehensive summary of all these aspects of the association between cruciferous vegetables and cancer prevention. We have attempted to summarize experimental carcinogenesis studies as well as clinical trials and studies on the mechanism of action of selective chemopreventive agents isolated and identified within these natural products. Results clearly point toward a positive correlation between cancer prevention of many target organs and consumption of cruciferous vegetable or their active constituents. Yet we are still far from complete understanding of the effects of combinations of chemopreventive phytochemicals present in these cruciferous vegetables and their overall mechanism(s) of action in providing protective effects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Brassicaceae*
  • Chemoprevention
  • Diet*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / prevention & control
  • Vegetables*


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents