Botanical and nutritional compounds have been used for the treatment of cancer throughout history. These compounds also may be useful in the prevention of cancer. Population studies suggest that a reduced risk of cancer is associated with high consumption of vegetables and fruits. Thus, the cancer chemopreventive potential of naturally occurring phytochemicals is of great interest. There are numerous reports of cancer chemopreventive activity of dietary botanicals, including cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage and broccoli, Allium vegetables such as garlic and onion, green tea, Citrus fruits, soybeans, tomatoes, berries, and ginger, as well as medicinal plants. Several lead compounds, such as genistein (from soybeans), lycopene (from tomatoes), brassinin (from cruciferous vegetables), sulforaphane (from asparagus), indole-3-carbinol (from broccoli), and resveratrol (from grapes and peanuts) are in preclinical or clinical trials for cancer chemoprevention. Phytochemicals have great potential in cancer prevention because of their safety, low cost, and oral bioavailability. In this review, we discuss potential natural cancer preventive compounds and their mechanisms of action.
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