The Mediterranean diet and more specifically certain meats, fruits, vegetables, and olive oil found in certain parts of the Mediterranean region have been associated with a decreased cardiovascular and diabetes risk. More recently, several population based studies have observed with these lifestyle choices have reported an overall reduced risk for several cancers. One study in particular observed an inverse relationship between consumption of Mediterranean herbs such as rosemary, sage, parsley, and oregano with lung cancer. In light of these findings there is a need to explore and identify the anti-cancer properties of these medicincal herbs and to identify the phytochemicals therein. One agent in particular, carnosol, has been evaluated for anti-cancer property in prostate, breast, skin, leukemia, and colon cancer with promising results. These studies have provided evidence that carnosol targets multiple deregulated pathways associated with inflammation and cancer that include nuclear factor kappa B (NFκB), apoptotic related proteins, phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3 K)/Akt, androgen and estrogen receptors, as well as molecular targets. In addition, carnosol appears to be well tolerated in that it has a selective toxicity towards cancer cells versus non-tumorigenic cells and is well tolerated when administered to animals. This mini-review reports on the pre-clinical studies that have been performed to date with carnosol describing mechanistic, efficacy, and safety/tolerability studies as a cancer chemoprevention and anti-cancer agent.
Keywords: Carnosol, rosemary, sage, antioxidant, cancer