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Review of Anticarcinogenic effect of saffron (Crocus sativus L.) and its ingredients


Saffron, derived from Crocus sativus L., is not only a high-value spice but also a traditional medicine used for centuries. It contains over 150 components, including crocin, crocetin, and safranal, which are thought to contribute to its health benefits. This review focuses on the anticarcinogenic properties of saffron and its main ingredients, exploring their potential mechanisms and effects in cancer prevention and treatment.

Key Insights

  • Phytochemical Composition of Saffron: Saffron’s anticancer properties are attributed to its rich phytochemical composition, especially crocin, crocetin, and safranal. How do these compounds interact with cancer cells to inhibit growth and induce apoptosis?
  • Mechanisms of Anticarcinogenic Action: the review suggests several mechanisms for saffron’s anticancer effects, including antioxidant activity, inhibition of nucleic acid synthesis, and induction of apoptosis. What specific pathways do these compounds target in cancer cells?
  • Clinical and Preclinical Evidence: with evidence from animal models and cultured human malignant cell lines showing saffron’s anticancer activities, what are the prospects for translating these findings into clinical applications? How can saffron be integrated into current cancer treatment protocols?


Saffron and its main ingredients exhibit significant potential as anticarcinogenic agents through various mechanisms, including antioxidant effects and modulation of gene expression related to cancer progression. This review underscores the need for further research to fully understand saffron’s anticancer mechanisms and to explore its efficacy in human clinical trials.


Saeed Samarghandian and Abasalt Borji


Pharmacognosy Res. 2014 Apr-Jun; 6(2): 99–107