Author(s): Fresco P, Borges F, Diniz C, Marques MP
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Abstract Cancer, one of the major causes of death across the world, has shown to be a largely preventable disease, highly susceptible to modulation by dietary factors. Phenolic compounds, abundant in vegetables and fruits ubiquitous in diet, were described to play an important role as chemopreventive agents. Since conventional therapeutic and surgical approaches have not been able to control the incidence of most cancer types, the development of chemopreventive strategies is an urgent priority in public health. The current diet phenolic intake is often insufficient to protect from mutagens (either exogenous or endogenous), which leads to the need for dietary supplementation as an alternative approach. Research efforts are placing increasing emphasis on identifying the biological mechanisms and in particular the signal transduction pathways related to the chemopreventive activities of these compounds. These effects are believed to occur by the regulation of signaling pathways such as nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB), activator protein-1 (AP-1) or mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK). Dietary polyphenols can exert their effects on these pathways separately or sequentially and in addition the occurrence of crosstalk between these pathways cannot be overlooked. By modulating cell signaling pathways, polyphenols activate cell death signals and induce apoptosis in precancerous or malignant cells resulting in the inhibition of cancer development or progression. However, regulation of cell signaling pathways by dietary polyphenols can also lead to cell proliferation/survival or inflammatory responses due to increased expression of several genes. The present review summarizes the most recent advances providing new insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying the promising anticarcinogenic activity of dietary polyphenols. 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
This article was published in Med Res Rev
and referenced in Natural Products Chemistry & Research