Beta-Sitosterol: A Promising but Orphan Nutraceutical to Fight Against Cancer

Nutr Cancer. 2015;67(8):1214-20. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2015.1087042. Epub 2015 Oct 16.


All the currently available cancer therapeutic options are expensive but none of them are safe. However, traditional plant-derived medicines or compounds are relatively safe. One widely known such compound is beta-sitosterol (BS), a plant derived nutrient with anticancer properties against breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer, ovarian cancer, and leukemia. Studies have shown that BS interfere with multiple cell signaling pathways, including cell cycle, apoptosis, proliferation, survival, invasion, angiogenesis, metastasis and inflammation. Most of the studies are incomplete partly due to the fact that BS is relatively less potent. But the fact that it is generally considered as nontoxic, the opposite of all currently available cancer chemo-therapeutics, is missed by almost all research communities. To offset the lower efficacy of BS, designing BS delivery for "cancer cell specific" therapy hold huge potential. Delivery of BS through liposome is one of such demonstrations that has shown to be highly promising. But further research did not progress neither in the field of drug delivery of BS nor in the field on how BS mediated anticancer activities could be improved, thus making BS an orphan nutraceutical. Therefore, extensive research with BS as potent anticancer nutraceutical is highly recommended.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Colonic Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Colonic Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukemia / drug therapy
  • Leukemia / prevention & control
  • Liposomes
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Lung Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Orphan Drug Production*
  • Phytoestrogens
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Sitosterols / administration & dosage
  • Sitosterols / therapeutic use*


  • Liposomes
  • Phytoestrogens
  • Sitosterols
  • gamma-sitosterol