Flavonoids Prevent Ovarian Cancer

Maylin Rodriguez-Paez RN

Ovarian cancer is a silent killer. The condition is most often detected in the later stages once it has spread to other organs, making prevention of utmost importance.

In a recent study, scientists investigated if flavonoids, a group of plant compounds that are beneficial to health, were associated with a lower risk of ovarian cancer.

Previous studies have also indicated that a plant based diet may offer protection against the disease.1

Flavonoids Associated With a 21% Lower Risk of Ovarian Cancer

In an unprecedented study, researchers tracked more than 170,000 women (aged 25–55) for a period of 16-22 years. They tracked flavonoid intake and measured it against the risk of ovarian cancer.

Women were given food questionnaires every four years and other surveys to assess lifestyle factors and disease diagnoses. Flavonoid intake was assessed by the type of food consumed in their daily diets.

Researchers focused on six types of flavonoids — flavanones, flavonols, anthocyanins, flavan-3-ols, flavones, and polymeric flavonoids — and this is what they found:

  • The main sources of flavonoids came from oranges, orange juice, black tea, onions, and apples. 
  • Women with the highest intake of flavonols and flavanones had a lower risk of ovarian cancer compared to those with the lowest intake. 
  • Women consuming more flavanones had a lower risk of more invasive and dangerous ovarian tumors. 
  • Higher tea intake was also associated with a lower risk of ovarian cancer. 
  • Women at the extreme levels of flavanone intake were found to have a 21% lower risk of ovarian cancer.1

Flavonoids Play a Role in Cell-Signaling

Flavonoids are often noted for their antioxidant activity, but they also play an important role in cell signaling. In fact, this may be the reason why they have anti-cancer effects.

One particular flavonoid called quercetin has multimodal activity against cancer cells. It activates apoptosis (cancer cell death) and inhibits angiogenesis, the process of new blood vessel growth.1

Quercetin has also been shown to inhibit the proliferation of ovarian cancer cells.1

Increasing Your Flavonoid Intake

Eating seven-to-eight servings of vegetables a day will get you pretty close to optimizing your intake of dietary flavonoids. But most Americans don’t even get close to eating seven servings. Luckily, there are certain foods that top the flavonoid list.

Good sources are wine, tea, soy, chocolate, citrus peel, and berries. Supplementation is also an easy way to increase your overall flavonoid intake.

Take special note of the following nutrients that are available in dietary supplements:

  • Quercetin 
  • Luteolin 
  • Apigenin 
  • Rutin 
  • Hesperidin 
  • Genistein 
  • Catechin 
  • Theaflavins 
  • EGCG


1. Available at: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2014/08/20/ajcn.114.088708.abstract Accessed September 2, 2014.F


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