There is growing evidence that compounds of plant origin have the ability to prevent cancer. Populations with greater reliance on fruits and vegetables in the diet experience a reduced risk for the major cancers. Research has focused on specific micronutrients and nonnutrient compounds that may have health benefits. The term phytochemical means any compound of plant origin. This review focuses on the cancer-preventive aspects of phytochemicals and their mechanisms of action. The term phytomedicine applies to the health-maintaining aspects of these compounds and their implications for raising the standard of public health.