Potential of Spice-Derived Phytochemicals for Cancer Prevention
Bharat B. Aggarwal, Ajaikumar B. Kunnumakkara, Kuzhuvelil B. Harikumar, Sheeja T. Tharakan, Bokyung Sung,Preetha Anand
Affiliation Cytokine Research Laboratory, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA
Abstract Although spices have been used for thousands of years and are known for their flavor, taste and color in the food, they are not usually recognized for their medicinal value. Extensive research within the last two decades from our laboratory and others has indicated that there are phytochemicals present in spices thatmay prevent various chronic illnesses including cancerous, diabetic, cardiovascular, pulmonary, neurological and autoimmune diseases. For instance, the potential of turmeric (curcumin), red chilli (capsaicin), cloves (eugenol), ginger (zerumbone), fennel (anethole), kokum (gambogic acid), fenugreek (diosgenin), and black cumin (thymoquinone) in cancer prevention has been established. Additionally, the mechanism by which these agents mediate anticancer effects is also becoming increasingly evident. The current review describes the active components of some of the major spices, their mechanisms of action and their potential in cancer prevention.
Conclusion From the description provided above it is clear that spice-derived phytochemicals have an enormous potential in the prevention and treatment of cancer. They can induce apoptosis, suppress proliferation of tumor cells, inhibit invasion and angiogenesis, and prevent even bone loss. These phytochemicals mediate their effects through multiple targets and yet pharmacologically they are highly safe. More animal studies and clinical trials are needed to prove the usefulness of these agents. Safety, inexpensive cost, years of intake by humans and their efficacy make them ideal agents. Therefore it is not too surprising to note that Vasco de Gama tried to look for these spices almost five centuries ago.