Tobacco and alcohol consumption have been reported as major factors for the development of oral cancer. Edible fungi of the Monascus species have been used as traditional Chinese medicine in eastern Asia for several centuries. Monascus-fermented products have many functional secondary metabolites, including monacolin K, citrinin, ankaflavin, and monascin. In several recent studies performed in our laboratory, these secondary metabolites have shown anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, and anti-tumor activities. Many published studies have shown the efficacy of Monascus-fermented products in the prevention of numerous types of cancer. The current article discusses and provides evidence to support that Monascus-fermented metabolites may be developed as painting drugs for the mouth to prevent or cure oral carcinogenesis. This is a novel therapeutic approach focusing on tumor growth attenuation to improve patient survival and quality of life.
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