Carica papaya is widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical countries and is used as food as well as traditional medicine to treat a range of diseases. Increasing anecdotal reports of its effects in cancer treatment and prevention, with many successful cases, have warranted that these pharmacological properties be scientifically validated. A bibliographic search was conducted using the key words "papaya", "anticancer", and "antitumor" along with cross-referencing. No clinical or animal cancer studies were identified and only seven in vitro cell-culture-based studies were reported; these indicate that C. papaya extracts may alter the growth of several types of cancer cell lines. However, many studies focused on specific compounds in papaya and reported bioactivity including anticancer effects. This review summarizes the results of extract-based or specific compound-based investigations and emphasizes the aspects that warrant future research to explore the bioactives in C. papaya for their anticancer activities.
© 2012 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.