Diet plays an important role in health. A high intake of plant chemicals such as glucosinolates/isothiocyanates can promote optimal health and decrease the risk of cancer. Recent research has discovered more novel mechanisms of action for the effects of isothiocyanates including the modulation of tumor microenvironment, the inhibition of the self-renewal of stem cells, the rearrangement of multiple pathways of energy metabolism, the modulation of microbiota, and protection against Helicobacter pylori. However, the hormetic/biphasic effects of isothiocyanates may make the recommendations complicated. Isothiocyanates possess potent anti-cancer activities based on up-to-date evidence from in vitro and in vivo studies. The nature of hormesis suggests that the benefits or risks of isothiocyanates largely depend on the dose and endpoint of interest. Isothiocyanates are a promising class of cancer-preventative phytochemicals, but researchers should be aware of the potential adverse (and hormetic) effects. In the authors’ opinion, dietary isothiocyanates are better used as adjunctive treatments in combination with known anti-cancer drugs. The application of nano-formulations and the delivery of isothiocyanates are also discussed in this review.
- : isothiocyanates
- Tumor microenvironment
- stem cells
- rearrangement of energy metabolism
- tumor microenvironment