Cancer cells display enhanced growth rates and a resistance to apoptosis. The ability of cancer cells to evade homeostasis and proliferate uncontrollably while avoiding programmed cell death/apoptosis is acquired through mutations to key signaling molecules, which regulate pathways involved in cell proliferation and survival. Compounds of plant origin, including food components, have attracted scientific attention for use as agents for cancer prevention and treatment. The exploration into natural products offers great opportunity to evaluate new anticancer agents as well as understand novel and potentially relevant mechanisms of action. Rosemary extract has been reported to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic and anticancer properties. Rosemary extract contains many polyphenols with carnosic acid and rosmarinic acid found in highest concentrations. The present review summarizes the existing in vitro and in vivo studies focusing on the anticancer effects of rosemary extract and the rosemary extract polyphenols carnosic acid and rosmarinic acid, and their effects on key signaling molecules.
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