Biological/chemopreventive activity of stilbenes and their effect on colon cancer

Planta Med. 2008 Oct;74(13):1635-43. doi: 10.1055/s-0028-1088301. Epub 2008 Oct 8.


Colon cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer death in men and women in Western countries. Epidemiological studies have linked the consumption of fruits and vegetables to a reduced risk of colon cancer, and small fruits are particularly rich sources of many active phytochemical stilbenes, such as resveratrol and pterostilbene. Recent advances in the prevention of colon cancer have stimulated an interest in diet and lifestyle as an effective means of intervention. As constituents of small fruits such as grapes, berries and their products, stilbenes are under intense investigation as cancer chemopreventive agents. One of the best-characterized stilbenes, resveratrol, has been known as an antioxidant and an anti-aging compound as well as an anti-inflammatory agent. Stilbenes have diverse pharmacological activities, which include cancer prevention, a cholesterol-lowering effect, enhanced insulin sensitivity, and increased lifespan. This review summarizes results related to the potential use of various stilbenes as cancer chemopreventive agents, their mechanisms of action, as well as their pharmacokinetics and efficacy for the prevention of colon cancer in animals and humans.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / chemistry*
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Diet
  • Fruit / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Stilbenes / chemistry*
  • Stilbenes / pharmacology*
  • Vegetables / chemistry


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Stilbenes