The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in its latest World Cancer Report (2014)
has projected the increase in the global cancer burden from 14 million (2012) to 22 million incidence annually within the next two decades. Such statistics warrant a collaborative engagement of conventional and complementary and alternative therapies to contain and manage cancer. In recent years, there has been a shift in the cancer chemoprevention paradigm with a significant focus turning towards bioactive components of human diets for their anticancer properties. Since diet is an integral part of lifestyle and given that an estimated one third of human cancers are believed to be preventable though appropriate lifestyle modification including dietary habits, the current shift in the conventional paradigm assumes significance. Several epidemiological studies have indicated that consumption of broccoli is associated with a lower risk of cancer incidence including breast, prostate, lung, stomach and colon cancer. The edible plant belonging to the family of cruciferae such as broccoli is a rich source of glucoraphanin, a precursor of isothiocyanate sulforaphane which is considered to be a potent anti-cancer agent. Plant-based dietary agents such as sulforaphane mimic chemotherapeutic drugs such as vorinostat, possessing histone deacetylase inhibition activity. Evidence from epidemiological and experimental studies have emerged, enhancing the clinical plausibility and translational value of sulforaphane in cancer chemoprevention. The present review provides the current understanding of the cancer chemopreventive pharmacology of sulforaphane towards its potential as an anticancer agent.
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