Colorectal cancer is one of the main causes of cancer-related mortality in the developed world. Carcinogenesis is a multistage process conventionally defined by the initiation, promotion and progression stages. Natural polyphenolic compounds can act as highly effective antioxidant and chemo-preventive agents able to interfere at the three stages of cancer. Cocoa has been demonstrated to counteract oxidative stress and to have a potential capacity to interact with multiple carcinogenic pathways involved in inflammation, proliferation and apoptosis of initiated and malignant cells. Therefore, restriction of oxidative stress and/or prevention or delayed progression of cancer stages by cocoa antioxidant compounds has gained interest as an effective approach in colorectal cancer prevention. In this review, we look over different in vitro and in vivo studies that have identified potential targets and mechanisms whereby cocoa and their flavonoids could interfere with colonic cancer. In addition, evidence from human studies is also illustrated.
Keywords: cocoa flavonoids; colon cancer; in vitro and in vivo studies; molecular mechanism.