Cancer chemoprevention through dietary antioxidants: progress and promise

Antioxid Redox Signal. 2008 Mar;10(3):475-510. doi: 10.1089/ars.2007.1740.


It is estimated that nearly one-third of all cancer deaths in the United States could be prevented through appropriate dietary modification. Various dietary antioxidants have shown considerable promise as effective agents for cancer prevention by reducing oxidative stress which has been implicated in the development of many diseases, including cancer. Therefore, for reducing the incidence of cancer, modifications in dietary habits, especially by increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants, are increasingly advocated. Accumulating research evidence suggests that many dietary factors may be used alone or in combination with traditional chemotherapeutic agents to prevent the occurrence of cancer, their metastatic spread, or even to treat cancer. The reduced cancer risk and lack of toxicity associated with high intake of fruits and vegetables suggest that specific concentrations of antioxidant agents from these dietary sources may produce cancer chemopreventive effects without causing significant levels of toxicity. This review presents an extensive analysis of the key findings from studies on the effects of dietary antioxidants such as tea polyphenols, curcumin, genistein, resveratrol, lycopene, pomegranate, and lupeol against cancers of the skin, prostate, breast, lung, and liver. This research is also leading to the identification of novel cancer drug targets.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage*
  • Carotenoids / administration & dosage
  • Curcumin / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Fruit
  • Genistein / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Lycopene
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Pentacyclic Triterpenes
  • Resveratrol
  • Stilbenes / administration & dosage
  • Triterpenes / administration & dosage


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Pentacyclic Triterpenes
  • Stilbenes
  • Triterpenes
  • Carotenoids
  • Genistein
  • Curcumin
  • lupeol
  • Resveratrol
  • Lycopene