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Have a Plant: Fruits & Veggies for Better Health

About The Buzz: Dietary Flavonoids Reduce Ovarian Cancer Risk?

TheBUZZ Dietary flavonoids reduce ovarian cancer risk?

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Women that consume a diet high in flavonoids from fruits, vegetables, and black tea may reduce their risk of developing ovarian cancer and life threatening tumors when compared to women that consume less flavonoids in their diet.

WHAT WE KNOW

The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be 21,980 new cases of ovarian cancer in 2014 with 65% resulting in death.1 Numerous studies indicate that ovarian cancer may be associated with obesity, however links to diet and ovarian cancer have been unclear. Through the years, cancer research has focused on fruit and vegetable consumption, but with the many types of cancers, tumors, and environmental factors, studies have been inconclusive regarding their effects.2 Past studies have determined that flavonoids found in fruits and vegetables may be beneficial in the treatment of cancerous tumors, but have lacked strong evidence to support a protective effect against the development of ovarian cancer.3 However, current research on flavonoids may have discovered a relationship between the consumption of flavonoids and the risk of ovarian cancer onset.

HOW WE KNOW THIS

A recent study by Cassidy et al investigated a possible association between total dietary flavonoid intake and the six subclass types on the risk of ovarian cancer.4 The authors reviewed data over a 22-year period for 171,940 participants and found a reduced incidence in the development of ovarian cancer in diets that were highest in flavonols (quercetin, kaempferol, myricetin, isohamnetin, and black tea) and flavanones (eriodictyol, hesperetin, and naringenin). Flavanone intake was also found to have a significant association on the formation of less aggressive tumor types compared to more aggressive tumor development in diagnosed ovarian cancer.

Flavonols and flavanones are two subclasses of flavonoids that are found primarily in citrus fruits and juices, parsley, thyme, hot peppers, black tea and celery.5,6 The two flavonoid subclasses may be beneficial in reducing ovarian cancer risk because they are powerful antioxidants that may protect against cell mutation and unusual cell division seen in cancer development.4,5 What remains unclear is the total amount of flavonoids (primarily flavonols and flavanones) we should aim for in a day.

OUR ADVICE

Flavonoids are only available from plants in our diet. Fruits, vegetables, tea, herbs, wine, and small amounts of dark chocolate are the best foods to increase intake of flavonoids. It may be difficult to pinpoint the exact subclass of flavonoids you are eating; therefore consuming a variety of plant-based foods with emphasis on fruits, vegetables, tea and herbs for lower calories and fat content is ideal.

8 Ways to Increase Your Intake of Flavonoids

  1. Make at least half your plate fruits and vegetables to reap the protective properties of flavonoids.
  2. Swap out soda for iced black tea.
  3. Grab a quick and easy 100% fruit or veggie juice to boost your fruit intake for the day.
  4. Have carrot and celery sticks cut up for easy, quick snacks.
  5. Add dried or fresh fruit to morning cereal, oatmeal, or toast.
  6. Exercise and consume a fruit- and vegetable-rich diet to achieve a healthy weight.
  7. Make a fruit & veggie smoothie for breakfast or any time of the day.
  8. Eat a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables to get optimal nutrients.

 

1 “Cancer Facts & Figures 2014.” Last modified 2014. See Facts

2 “What are the risk factors for ovarian cancer?” Cancer.org. Last modified August 11, 2014. Read Article

3 Hu Wang, et al. “Plants Against Cancer: A Review of Natural Phytochemicals in Preventing and Treating Cancers and their Drugability.” Anti-Cancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry (2012) 12(10):1281-1305. Accessed October 29, 2014, doi:10.2174/187152012803833026. Read Abstract

4 Aedín Cassidy,et al. “Intake of dietary flavonoids and risk of epithelial ovarian cancer.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 100 (2014): 1344-1351, Accessed October 29, 2014, doi:10.3945/ajcn.114.088708. Read Article

5 “Flavonoids.” Oregon State University. Last modified June 2008. View

6 “Flavonoids.” Produce for Better Health Foundation. Accessed October 29, 2014. View

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