A lot of information has been gathered on cellular mechanisms by which chemopreventive phytochemicals, such as curcumin (a spice in curry) or epigallocatechin gallate (extracted from tea), interfere with carcinogenesis. A comparison of this knowledge with what we know about molecularly targeted chemotherapeutic agents suggests that it might be worthwhile to investigate the usefulness of such phytochemicals in the treatment of established malignant diseases. Phytochemicals use a plethora of antisurvival mechanisms, boost the host's anti-inflammatory defence, and sensitise malignant cells to cytotoxic agents. The restricted systemic availability of agents such as curcumin and epigallocatechin gallate, needs to be taken into account if they are to be developed as cochemotherapeutic drugs.
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