Prasan R. Bhandari
Cancer is one of the most feared diseases globally and there has been a sustained rise in its incidence in both developing and developed countries. Despite the growing therapeutic options for patients with cancer, their efficacy is time-limited and non-curative. Hence to overcome these drawbacks, an incessant screening for superior and safer drugs has been ongoing for numerous decades, resulting in the detection of anti-cancer properties of several phytochemicals. Chemoprevention using readily available natural substances from vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices is one of the significantly important approaches for cancer prevention in the present era. Among the spices, Crocus sativus L. (saffron; 番紅花 fān hóng huā) has generated interest because pharmacological experiments have established numerous beneficial properties including radical scavenging, anti-mutagenic and immuno-modulating effects. The more powerful components of saffron are crocin, crocetin and safranal. Studies in animal models and with cultured human malignant cell lines have demonstrated antitumor and cancer preventive activities of saffron and its main ingredients. This review provides a brief insight into the anticancer properties of saffron and its components.