Phytochemicals as Chemopreventive Agents


According to a remarkable article published in the September 2008 issue of Pharmaceutical Research (25(9): 2097–2116) (Published online 2008 Jul 15. doi: 10.1007/s11095-008-9661-9), entitled Cancer is a Preventable Disease that Requires Major Lifestyle Changes, the authors identified a number of phytochemicals that have been researched for their ability to act as chemopreventive agents.  A chemopreventive agent is a drug or compound to inhibit, delay, or reverse carcinogenesis.

Phytochemicals are chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants. Scientists have identified over 4,000 phytochemicals.  Various phytochemicals have been identified in fruits, vegetables, spices, and grains that exhibit chemopreventive potential. The consumption of these various phytochemicals in the diet has been researched in numerous studies to show that they can protect against cancer.  1 2 3 4

The consumption of these phytochemicals in the diet are considered safe and target multiple cell-signaling pathways.  5

The Table below lists some of the more common and researched phytochemicals as chemopreventive agents.  The phytochemical is listed with the foods, herbs and spices that contain the phytochemical.  There is then a link to any nutraceutical (if any) that contains the phytochemical.  The last column list a reference to a study on the chemopreventive potential of the phytochemical.  With many of the phytochemicals listed, there are numerous references that can be cited.  In this Table we are listing only one or two references as a starting point for further research.

PhytoChemicals as Chemopreventive Agents

1(-)-epicatechin gallate Green tea, buckwheat, grapesN NR
2(-)-epicatechinCocoa, prune juice, broad bean pod, Açaí oil, peaches, green tea, vinegar and barley grainNR
31’-actoxychavicol acetateAlpinia galanga (Languas galanga) Thai galangal Thai gingerNoneR
418-β-glycyrrhetinic acidLiquoriceNoneR
5Acetyl-11-keto-β-boswellic acid Indian frankincense, SalaiNR R
7Alpha-lipoic acidSpinach, Kidney, Liver Broccoli, Heart, Tissue, TomatoesNR
8Alpha-tocoperolWheat germ oil, Sunflower oil, Almond oil, Sunflower seed, Almond, Hazelnut, Walnut oil, Peanut oil, Olive oil NR
9AnetholeFennel, anise , liquorice (Fabaceae), camphor, magnolia blossoms, and star aniseNoneR R
10ApigeninChamomile tea, grapefruits, onions, oranges, parsley, celery, yarrow, tarragon, cilantro, foxglove, coneflower, licorice, flax, passion flower, horehound, spearmint, basil, and oregano, and Gingko BilobaNR
11Ascorbic acid Kiwi fruits, Citrus Fruits, Noncitrus fruits, Fruiting vegetables (usually peppers and sweet peppers), Potatoes, Leafy green vegetables, Cruciferous vegetablesNR
12BaicalinScutellaria baicalensis (Baikal skullcap), Scutellaria lateriflora (blue skullcap), Scutellaria galericulata (marsh skullcap)N
Baikal skullcap only
13Benzyl isothiocyanateCruciferous vegetables, green immature papayaNR
14BerberineGoldenseal, Oregon grape, Chinese Goldenthread, Tinospora cordifolia NR
15Beta-caroteneVietnamese gac (Momordica cochinchinensis Spreng.), palm oil, yellow and orange fruits, such as cantaloupe, mangoes, pumpkin and papayas, and orange root vegetables such as carrots and yams; spinach, kale, sweet potato leaves, and sweet gourd leaves, apricot, sweet potatoes, broccoli, turnip greens, winter squash and collard greensNR
16Beta-cryptoxanthinePetals and flowers of plants in the genus Physalis, orange rind, papaya, egg yolk, butter, apples, red peppers and bovine blood serum REFERENCENR
17Beta-lapachoneLapacho tree (Tabebuia avellanedae) Pau D’arcoNR
18Betulinic acidwhite birch (Betula pubescens), ber tree (Ziziphus mauritiana), selfheal (Prunella vulgaris), Triphyophyllum peltatum and Ancistrocladus heyneanus, Diospyros leucomelas, Tetracera boiviniana, (Syzygium formosanum), flowering quince (Pseudocydonia sinensis, rosemary, Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) and Pulsatilla chinensisN NR
19ButeinToxicodendron vernicifluum (formerly Rhus verniciflua), also known by the common name Chinese lacquer treeNR
20Caffeic acid phenethyl esterBee propolisNR
21CapsaicinCayenne, chilli peppersNR
22CarnosolRosemary and Mountain desert sage (Salvia pachyphylla)NR
23CelastrolRoot extracts of Tripterygium wilfordii (Thunder god vine) and Celastrus regeliiNR
24CurcuminTurmeric (Curcuma longa or JiangHuang), Common Ginger (Zingiber officinale) and shampoo ginger (Zingiber zerumbet)NR
25Dibenzoylmethane A structural analogue of curcumin (a bioactive phytochemical present in a widely used spice turmeric)NoneR
26DiosgeninTubers of Dioscorea wild yam, such as the Kokoro; fenugreek (Trigonella foenum graecum)NR
27EmodinRhubarb, buckthorn and Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica syn. Polygonum cuspidatum), aloe vera leavesNR
28Epigallocatechin gallate White tea (4245 mg per 100 g), green tea (7380 mg per 100 g) and, in smaller quantities, black tea; apple skin, plums, onions, hazelnuts, pecans and carob powder (at 109 mg per 100 g)NR
29Eugenol Clove oil, nutmeg, cinnamon, basil, bay leaf, wormwoodNR
30EvodiamineExtracted from the Tetradium genus of plants; Euodia, Evodia, or Bee bee treeNR
31Gamma-tocotrienol Rice bran oil and palm oil, wheat germ, barley, saw palmetto, anattoNR
32GarcinolRind of the fruit of Garcinia indica; popularly known as Kokum or MangosteenNR R
33GenisteinLupin, fava beans, soybeans, kudzu, and psoralea being the primary food source, also in the medicinal plants, Flemingia vestita and F. macrophylla, and coffee, Sophora japonicaNR
35GlabridinRoot extract of licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra).NR
36Glycyrrhetinic acidLiquoriceNR
37GlycyrrhizinGlycyrrhiza glabra (liquorice) rootNR
38GuggulsteroneResin of the guggul plant, Commiphora mukulNR
39Indiruibin-3’-monoximeActive ingredient of Danggui Longhui Wan, a mixture of plants that is used in traditional Chinese medicine; Indigo Plant (Isatis Root, Isatis Leaf)NoneR
40Indole 3-carbinol High levels in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, collard greens and kaleNR
41KahweolBeans of Coffea Arabica; an antioxidant diterpene that remains in unfiltered coffee beverages, such as Turkish and Scandinavian coffee NoneR
42LinaloolCinnamomum tamala, Cannabis sativa, Ocimum basilicum, Solidago chilensis MeyenArtemisia vulgaris (mugwort), Humulus lupulus
43LupeolMango, Acacia visco and Abronia villosa; dandelion coffeeNR
44LuteinHigh quantities in green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and yellow carrots, dandelion, NR
45Lycopene Tomatoes, red carrots, watermelons, gac, and papayas, asparagus, parsley, autumn olive, pink guava, papaya, seabuckthorn, wolfberry (goji, a berry relative of tomato), and rosehipNR
46MangiferinMangoes,in Iris unguicularis, Anemarrhena asphodeloides rhizomes, and in Bombax CeidaNoneR
47MangostinMangosteen tree (Garcinia mangostana)NoneR
48Myricetin Oranges, Sea Buckthorn, Chia seeds (Salvia hispanica), Carob extract (Ceratonia siliqua), Pistachio extract (Pistacia lentiscus), Grape Seed Extract, Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, chinese cabbage, but not cauliflower, Peppers (capsicum family) including red chili, green chili, bell pepper,garlic, walnuts, onionsNR
49OleandrinOleander (Nerium oleander L.)NoneR R
50Oleanolic acid Olive oil, Phytolacca americana (American pokeweed), and Syzygium spp, Siberian Ginseng (leaves), Olive Leaf, European Mistletoe (leaves), Basil, garlicN NR
51Phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC)Cruciferous vegetablesNR
52Phytic acid (inositol hexakisphosphate (IP6))Grains, seeds and beans. Rich sources of phytic acid are wheat bran and flaxseed (3 % phytic acid)
53Piceatannol Roots of Norway spruces (Picea abies), seeds of the palm Aiphanes horrida and in Gnetum cleistostachyum; Piceatannol is a metabolite of resveratrol found in red wine, grapes, passion fruit, white tea, and Japanese knotweed, blackberriesNoneR
54PiperineBlack pepper and long pepper, West African pepperN N NR R
55PlumbaginPlumbago, Drosera and Nepenthes, black walnut drupe (Juglans nigra)NoneR
56QuercetinApple, tea, onion, nuts, berries, cauliflower and cabbageN NR R
57Quinic acidCinchona bark, coffee beansNR
58RsveratrolSkin of grapes, blueberries, raspberries, and mulberries; Japanese knotweed; muscadine grapes; peanuts, especially sprouted peanuts; N NR
59SanguinarineBloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), Mexican prickly poppy Argemone mexicana, Chelidonium majus and Macleaya cordataNoneR
60SesaminSesame Seed Oil and Sesame Seeds (Sesamum indicum)NR
61Silymarin Milk thistle seedsNR
62SulforaphaneCruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy, kale, collards, Chinese broccoli, broccoli raab, kohlrabi, mustard, turnip, radish, arugula, and watercress; highest levels in 3 day old broccoli sproutsNR
63TanshinonesSalvia miltiorrhiza (simplified Chinese: 丹参; traditional Chinese: 丹參; pinyin: dānshēn), also known as red sage, Chinese sage, tan shen, or danshenNR
64Tanshinones IIASalvia miltiorrhiza (simplified Chinese: 丹参; traditional Chinese: 丹參; pinyin: dānshēn), also known as red sage, Chinese sage, tan shen, or danshenNR
65Theaflavin-3,3’-digallate Black teaNR
66ThymoquinoneNigella sativa (Black cumin seed); kolanji seedsN N NR R
67Ursolic acidApples, basil, bilberries, cranberries, elder flower, peppermint, rosemary, lavender, oregano, thyme, sage, holy basil, hawthorn, and prunesNR R
68WogoninScutellaria baicalensis (Baikal skullcap); active ingredients of Sho-Saiko-To, a Japanese herbal supplementNR
69Yakuchinone AIsolated from Alpinia oxyphylla Miquel; Yi Zhi Ren; Sharp-Leaf Galangal(Seed)N NR
70Yakuchinone BIsolated from Alpinia oxyphylla Miquel; Yi Zhi Ren; Sharp-Leaf Galangal(Seed)N NR
71ZerumboneZingiber zerumbet also known as bitter ginger; locally known to the Malay as “Lempoyang” NoneR

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