Natural products and colon cancer: current status and future prospects

Drug Dev Res. 2008 Nov 1;69(7):460-471. doi: 10.1002/ddr.20276.


Carcinogenesis is a multistage process consisting of initiation, promotion and progression phases. Thus, the multistage sequence of events has many phases for prevention and intervention. Chemoprevention, a novel approach for controlling cancer, involves the use of specific natural products or synthetic chemical agents to reverse, suppress or prevent premalignancy before the development of invasive cancer. Several natural products, such as, grains, nuts, cereals, spices, fruits, vegetables, beverages, medicinal plants and herbs and their various phytochemical constituents including, phenolics, flavonoids, carotenoids, alkaloids, nitrogen containing as well as organosulfur compounds confer protective effects against wide range of cancers including colon cancer. Since diet has an important role in the etiology of colon cancer, dietary chemoprevention received attention for colon cancer prevention. However, identification of an agent with chemopreventive potential requires in vitro studies, efficacy and toxicity studies in animal models before embarking on human clinical trials. A brief introduction about colon cancer and the role of some recent natural products in colon cancer chemoprevention with respect to multiple molecular mechanisms in various in vitro, in vivo and clinical studies are described in this review.