Polyphenols are present in high amounts in all parts of plants including roots, seeds, flowers, leaves, branches and trunk as well as plant derived products such as tea, coffee and wine. Extensive amount of information is available on biological effects of polyphenols including antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-coagulant and anti-microbial activities. In recent years, researchers have turned their interest towards identifying molecular mechanisms underlying the anti-cancer effects of these compounds. However, the limited bioavailability of polyphenols and the existence of differences in cancer cells in terms of intracellular mechanisms affected has necessitated the use of specific approaches to individual cancer cell types as well as methods of increasing bioavailability. In this review, the structures, bioavailability, biological activities and molecular mechanisms of anti-cancer effects of curcumin, quercetin and tea catechins are discussed.