Conventional therapies for cancer treatment have posed many challenges, including toxicity, multidrug resistance and economic expenses. In contrast, complementary alternative medicine (CAM), employing phytochemicals have recently received increased attention owing to their capability to modulate a myriad of molecular mechanisms with a less toxic effect. Increasing evidence from preclinical and clinical studies suggest that phytochemicals can favorably modulate several signaling pathways involved in cancer development and progression. Combinations of phytochemicals promote cell death, inhibit cell proliferation and invasion, sensitize cancerous cells, and boost the immune system, thus making them striking alternatives in cancer therapy. We previously investigated the effect of six phytochemicals (Indol-3-Carbinol, Resveratrol, C-phycocyanin, Isoflavone, Curcumin and Quercetin), at their bioavailable levels on breast cancer cell lines and were compared to primary cell lines over a period of 6 days. This study showed the compounds had a synergestic effect in inhibiting cell proliferation, reducing cellular migration and invasion, inducing both cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. Despite the vast number of basic science and preclinical cancer studies involving phytochemicals, the number of CAM clinical trials in cancer treatment still remains nascent. In this review, we summarize findings from preclinical and clinical studies, including our work involving use of phytochemicals, individually as well as in combination and further discuss the potential of these phytochemicals to pave way to integrate CAM in primary health care.
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