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Planta Med. 2008 Oct;74(13):1560-9. doi: 10.1055/s-2008-1074578. Epub 2008 Jul 8.

Potential of spice-derived phytochemicals for cancer prevention.

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Cytokine Research Laboratory, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


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 that may 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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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