Anti-cancer and Potential Chemopreventive Actions of Ginseng


This article review recent basic and clinical studies of ginseng, particularly the anti-cancer effects and the potential chemopreventive actions by activating the transcriptional factor, Nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 factor 2 (Nrf2) anti-oxidative stress / anti-inflammatory pathways.

Nrf2 is a novel target for cancer prevention as it regulates the antioxidant responsive element (ARE), a critical regulatory element in the promoter region of genes encoding cellular phase II detoxifying and anti-oxidative stress enzymes. The studies on the chemopreventive effects of ginseng or its components/products showed that Nrf2 could also be a target for ginseng’s actions.

A number of papers also demonstrated the anti-inflammatory effects of ginseng which could be related to the Nrf2 signalling pathway. Targeting Nrf2 pathway is a novel approach to the investigation of ginseng’s cancer chemopreventive actions, including some oxidative stress / inflammatory conditions responsible for the initiation, promotion and progression of carcinogenesis.


The anti-cancer and chemopreventive actions of ginseng could be exerted through activating the Nrf2 anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory pathways. Further studies on the effects of ginseng in Nrf2-mediated induction of phase II/antioxidant enzymes would elucidate the action mechanism of ginseng in cancer chemoprevention.


Anti-cancer and potential chemopreventive actions of ginseng by activating Nrf2 anti-oxidative stress/anti-inflammatory pathways


Published in Chinese Medicine 2010, 5:37 doi:10.1186/1749-8546-5-37

by Constance Lay-Lay Saw (,Qing Wu (, Ah-Ng Tony Kong (

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About Medimise

JP studied Health Sciences with the Open University between 2008 and 2011 and attained a Certificate in Health Sciences. Focus areas included T2 diabetes, trauma and repair, pain management, alcoholism, COPD, and cancer diagnosis and treatment. JP has been working as lead editor of several health publications since 2006 and works full time in the health industry.

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