Cranberries are rich in bioactive constituents reported to influence a variety of health benefits, ranging from improved immune function and decreased infections to reduced cardiovascular disease and more recently cancer inhibition. A review of cranberry research targeting cancer revealed positive effects of cranberries or cranberry derived constituents against 17 different cancers utilizing a variety of in vitro techniques, whereas in vivo studies supported the inhibitory action of cranberries toward cancers of the esophagus, stomach, colon, bladder, prostate, glioblastoma and lymphoma. Mechanisms of cranberry-linked cancer inhibition include cellular death induction via apoptosis, necrosis and autophagy; reduction of cellular proliferation; alterations in reactive oxygen species; and modification of cytokine and signal transduction pathways. Given the emerging positive preclinical effects of cranberries, future clinical directions targeting cancer or premalignancy in high risk cohorts should be considered.
Keywords: cancer; cranberry; proanthocyanidin; quercetin; ursolic acid.