Chemoprevention is the use of a medication, vitamin/supplement, natural or biological agent to delay the development or recurrence of cancer.
Due to cancer morbidity, mortality, and cost of care, chemoprevention is a rapidly evolving field.
- Physical processes that contribute to cancer are increased: reactive oxygen species, cell migration, inflammation, and decreased apoptosis.
Cancer chemoprevention involves the chronic administration of a synthetic, natural or biological agent to reduce or delay the occurrence of malignancy.
Chemopreventive agents are the chemicals or substances which have anticancer properties to inhibit carcinogenesis by blocking DNA damage at the beginning stages or by reversing the processes at stages of promotion and progression.
Chemoprevention is categorized as primary, secondary, or tertiary. Primary chemoprevention occurs when chemopreventive agents are made available to the population at large. Secondary chemoprevention is used for individuals at high risk. Tertiary chemoprevention is targeted to prevent disease recurrence or additional (second) primary disease in those individuals who have already endured potentially curative therapy, such as treatment with aromatase inhibitors.
Many of the compounds used in cancer chemoprevention studies are natural phytochemicals which are present in food. These include curcumin from turmeric, genistein from soybean, tea polyphenols from green tea, resveratrol from grapes, sulforaphane from broccoli, isothiocyanates from cruciferous vegetables, silymarin from milk thistle, diallyl sulfide from garlic, lycopene from tomato, rosmarinic acid from rosemary, apigenin from parsley, and gingerol from ginger, amongst others.
- Effects of chemoprevention are decreased: reactive oxygen species, cell migration, inflammation, and increased apoptosis.
There have been many studies showing the positive results of chemoprevention using natural phytochemicals. This looks quite promising for more research and implementation of chemoprevention.
Natural dietary phytochemicals have been and will continue to be a promising and active research area in cancer treatment.