Triterpenoids are a powerful group of phytochemicals derived from plant foods and herbs. Many reports have shown that they possess chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic effects not only in cell lines and animal models but also in clinical trials. Because epigenetic changes could potentially occur in the early stages of carcinogenesis preceding genetic mutations, epigenetics are considered promising targets in early interventions against cancer using epigenetic bioactive substances. The biological properties of triterpenoids in cancer prevention and in health have multiple mechanisms, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities, cell cycle regulation, as well as epigenetic/epigenomic regulation. In this review, we will discuss and summarize the latest advances in the study of the pharmacological effects of triterpenoids in cancer chemoprevention and in health, including the epigenetic machinery.
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