Anticancer Effects of Sandalwood (Santalum album)

Anticancer Res. 2015 Jun;35(6):3137-45.


Effective management of tumorigenesis requires development of better anticancer agents with greater efficacy and fewer side-effects. Natural products are important sources for the development of chemotherapeutic agents and almost 60% of anticancer drugs are of natural origin. α-Santlol, a sesquiterpene isolated from Sandalwood, is known for a variety of therapeutic properties including anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-viral and anti-bacterial activities. Cell line and animal studies reported chemopreventive effects of sandalwood oil and α-santalol without causing toxic side-effects. Our laboratory identified its anticancer effects in chemically-induced skin carcinogenesis in CD-1 and SENCAR mice, ultraviolet-B-induced skin carcinogenesis in SKH-1 mice and in vitro models of melanoma, non-melanoma, breast and prostate cancer. Its ability to induce cell-cycle arrest and apoptosis in cancer cells is its most reported anticancer mechanism of action. The present review discusses studies that support the anticancer effect and the mode of action of sandalwood oil and α-santalol in carcinogenesis.

Keywords: Sandalwood; angiogenesis; apoptosis; cancer; carcinogenesis; cell cycle; review; santalol.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Carcinogenesis / drug effects*
  • Cell Cycle Checkpoints / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Plant Oils / therapeutic use*
  • Santalum / chemistry*
  • Skin Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Skin Neoplasms / drug therapy*


  • Plant Extracts
  • Plant Oils