Chemoprevention of photocarcinogenesis by selected dietary botanicals

Photochem Photobiol Sci. 2006 Feb;5(2):243-53. doi: 10.1039/b505311k. Epub 2005 Aug 12.


Epidemiological, clinical and laboratory studies have implicated solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation as a tumor initiator, tumor promoter and complete carcinogen, and their excessive exposure can lead to the development of various skin disorders including melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancers. Sunscreens are useful, but their protection is not adequate to prevent the risk of UV-induced skin cancer. It may be because of inadequate use, incomplete spectral protection and toxicity. Therefore new chemopreventive methods are necessary to protect the skin from photodamaging effects of solar UV radiation. Chemoprevention refers to the use of agents that can inhibit, reverse or retard the process of skin carcinogenesis. In recent years, considerable interest has been focused on identifying naturally occurring botanicals, specifically dietary, for the prevention of photocarcinogenesis. A wide variety of botanicals, mostly dietary flavonoids or phenolic substances, have been reported to possess substantial anticarcinogenic and antimutagenic activities because of their antioxidant and antiinflammatory properties. This review summarizes chemopreventive effects of some selected botanicals, such as apigenin, curcumin, grape seed proanthocyanidins, resveratrol, silymarin, and green tea polyphenols, against photocarcinogenesis in in vitro and in vivo systems. Attention has also been focused on highlighting the mechanism of chemopreventive action of these dietary botanicals. We suggest that in addition to the use of these botanicals as dietary supplements for the protection of photocarcinogenesis, these botanicals may favorably supplement sunscreens protection and may provide additional antiphotocarcinogenic protection including the protection against other skin disorders caused by solar UV radiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / therapeutic use*
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use
  • Chemoprevention
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / prevention & control*
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Skin / chemistry*
  • Skin / radiation effects*
  • Skin Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Antioxidants