The tendency of using herbs extracts or natural compounds extracted from herbs for preventing or
treating different illnesses, including cancer, continues to be an alternative to drug use. Many studies of plant
compounds aimed at finding substances with selective cytotoxicity on abnormal cells. Phenolic compounds, as
important secondary metabolites from plants, are one of them. In this review, the recent literature data from the
past five years about anticancer/antitumor effect of flavonoids and tannins extracted from medicinal plants are
surveyed. The cytostatic/antitumor effects of the individual compounds extracted from plants and/or of the
plants' polyphenolic extracts are considered, in order to point out the most significant constituents or plants with
anticancer potential. The most important results concerning these compounds and their derivatives in cancer
prevention and treatment, the importance of their chemical structure, their mechanism of action in vitro and in
vivo, and some bioavailability aspects are discussed.
Keywords: Flavonoids, tannins, medicinal plants, cytotoxicity, antitumor activity, bioavailability.
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