Cancer is a leading cause of the death worldwide. Since the National Cancer Act in 1971, various cancer treatments were developed including chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy and so forth. However, sequela of such cancer therapies and cachexia are problem to the patients. The primary mechanism of cancer sequela and cachexia is closely related to reactive oxygen species (ROS) and inflammation. As antioxidant properties of numerous plant extracts have been widely reported, plant-derived drugs may have efficacy on managing the sequela and cachexia. In this study, recent seventy-four studies regarding plant extracts showing ability to manage the sequela and cachexia were reviewed. Some plant-derived antioxidants inhibited cancer proliferation and inflammation after surgery and others prevented chemotherapy-induced normal cell apoptosis. Also, there are plant extracts that suppressed radiation-induced oxidative stress and cell damage by elevation of glutathione (GSH), superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), glutathione peroxidase (GPx) and regulation of B-cell lymphoma 2 (BcL-2) and Bcl-2-associated X protein (Bax). Cachexia was also alleviated by inhibition of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interleukin-1β (IL-1β), interleukin-6 (IL-6) and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) by plant extracts. This review focuses on the potential of plant extracts as great therapeutic agents by controlling oxidative stress and inflammation.
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