Polyphenols, chemically characterized by a polyhydroxylated phenolic structure, are well known for their widespread pharmacological properties: anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, antiseptic, antitumor, antiallergic, cardioprotective and others. Their distribution in food products is also extensive especially in plant foods such as vegetables, cereals, legumes, fruits, nuts and certain beverages. The latest scientific literature outlines a resilient interconnection between cancer modulation and dietary polyphenols by sphingolipid-mediated mechanisms, usually correlated with a modification of their metabolism. We aim to extensively survey this relationship to show how it could be advantageous in cancer treatment or prevention by nutrients. From this analysis it emerges that a combination of classical chemotherapy with nutrients and especially with polyphenols dietary sources may improve efficacy and decreases negative side effects of the antineoplastic drug. In this multifaceted scenario, sphingolipids play a pivotal role as bioactive molecules, emerging as the mediators of cell proliferation in cancer and modulator of chemotherapeutics.
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