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The potential role of alkylresorcinol compound from whole grains for prevention and inhibition of human cancer cell lines has been reported in observational and in vitro studies. The objective of this study was to present an updated review on the association between alkylresorcinols and cancer risk and aspects of their bioactivity with implications for carcinogenesis. Relevant studies were identifed by searching PubMed, Scopus, ProQuest, EBSCOhost, SpringerLink, ArticleFirst, Taylor & Francis, Wiley Online, and ScienceDirect electronic databases using these search terms and key words: alkylresorcinols, cancer, carcinoma, risk. Furthermore, references from retrieved articles were also reviewed. Four observational and 10 in vitro studies were included in the analysis of natural or synthetic alkylresorcinols for anticancer activities. Two prospective studies reported a 52–66% risk reduction of distal colon cancer at nanomolar alkylresorcinols concentration in plasma; the remaining studies found no reduction of endometrial cancer risk and an approximate 40% increase in prostate cancer risk. In vitro studies presented inhibition of human colon, breast, lung, central nervous system, adenocarcinoma, hepatocarcinoma, cervix squamous carcinoma, and ovarian cancer cell lines, at micromolar alkylresorcinols concentration. Evidence from prospective studies confrmed signifcant inverse associations between whole grains intake and distal colon cancer risk. Model studies suggest a high cytotoxicity of alkylresorcinols toward cancer cells. These fndings maintain that alkylresorcinols as components of whole grains are likely to fnd application in cancer prevention; however, the need for intervention studies to confrm their preventive action is warranted.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


DOI 10.1007/s00217-017-2890-6


Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Citation/Publisher Attribution

Kruk, J., Aboul-Enein, B., Bernstein, J., & Marchlewicz, M. (2017). Dietary alkylresorcinols and cancer prevention: A systematic review. European Food Research and Technology, 243(10), 1693-1710.