Polyphenols as a chemopreventive agent in oral carcinogenesis: putative mechanisms of action using in-vitro and in-vivo test systems

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Polyphenols are present in foods and beverages, being related to sensorial qualities such as color, bitterness, and astringency, which are relevant in products such as wine, tea, and grape juice. These compounds occur naturally in forms varying from simple phenolic acids to complex polymerized tannins. Oral cancer is the most common head and neck cancer, and it often has a poor prognosis owing to local tumor invasion and frequent lymph node metastasis. Nowadays, chemoprevention is considered as a promising approach for controlling cancer as a result of specific natural products or synthetic agents able to suppress, reverse, or even prevent premalignancy before transformation into invasive cancer. The use of polyphenols as a chemopreventive agent is a suitable tool for modulation of the oral carcinogenesis process. The aim of this article is to present data generated from the use of polyphenols as a chemopreventive agent in oral carcinogenesis using in-vivo and in-vitro test systems. These results have shown that polyphenols are able to exert some chemopreventive action as a result of inducing cellular death, apoptosis, inhibition of tumor growth, and antioxidative properties. Therefore, this area warrants further investigation as a new approach that would apply not only to polyphenols but also to other phytochemicals used as promising therapeutic agents against oral human diseases, especially cancer.

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