Chapter 1

Essential Oils and Monoterpenes as Potential Anti- Cancer Agents

Julia Pérez-Ramos, Nimsi Campos-Xolalpa, Roberto Serrano, Cuauhtemoc Pérez and Salud Pérez*


Cancer is a complex disease, and some projections indicate that in 2030, cancer mortality will reach approximately 11.4 million deaths worldwide. One treatment for cancer is chemotherapy. However, cancer cells could present resistance to the therapeutic compounds, and these compounds also have adverse effects. New drugs with anticancer activity have been successfully found in plants. Essential oils (EOs) are a mixture of over 100 volatile organic compounds abundant in aromatic plants. EOs are mainly composed of compounds of low molecular weight, such as monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, and phenolic compounds. The chemical composition of EOs depends mainly on the plant species, place of origin, and climatic conditions. Generally, the EO density at room temperature is lower than that of water. They are brown, yellow, or colorless, and they have a perceptible aroma. EOs have been used throughout history in different areas, such as in foods, cosmetics, cleaning supplies, and traditional medicine for the treatment of certain health problems. Monoterpenes, built from two isoprene molecules, are hydrocarbon terpenes and oxygenated compounds (terpenoids), such as alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, acids, and esters. Monoterpenes are one of the main chemical constituents of EOs that have appeared in a large number of studies, and their anticancer efficacy has been documented between 2015-2020. This review presents the latest research progress in the use of EOs and monoterpenes as anticancer agents. The 115 EOs and 26 monoterpenes obtained from 36 different plant families included in this review show that Asteraceae and Lamiaceae have been the most studied families during this period.

Total Pages: 1-36 (36)

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