Background: Flavonoids are effective antioxidants and may protect against several chronic diseases.
Objective: The association between flavonoid intake and risk of several chronic diseases was studied.
Design: The total dietary intakes of 10 054 men and women during the year preceding the baseline examination were determined with a dietary history method. Flavonoid intakes were estimated, mainly on the basis of the flavonoid concentrations in Finnish foods. The incident cases of the diseases considered were identified from different national public health registers.
Results: Persons with higher quercetin intakes had lower mortality from ischemic heart disease. The relative risk (RR) between the highest and lowest quartiles was 0.79 (95% CI: 0.63, 0.99: P for trend = 0.02). The incidence of cerebrovascular disease was lower at higher kaempferol (0.70; 0.56, 0.86; P = 0.003), naringenin (0.79; 0.64, 0.98; P = 0.06), and hesperetin (0.80; 0.64, 0.99; P = 0.008) intakes. Men with higher quercetin intakes had a lower lung cancer incidence (0.42; 0.25, 0.72; P = 0.001), and men with higher myricetin intakes had a lower prostate cancer risk (0.43; 0.22, 0.86; P = 0.002). Asthma incidence was lower at higher quercetin (0.76; 0.56, 1.01; P = 0.005), naringenin (0.69; 0.50, 0.94; P = 0.06), and hesperetin (0.64; 0.46, 0.88; P = 0.03) intakes. A trend toward a reduction in risk of type 2 diabetes was associated with higher quercetin (0.81; 0.64, 1.02; P = 0.07) and myricetin (0.79; 0.62, 1.00; P = 0.07) intakes.
Conclusion: The risk of some chronic diseases may be lower at higher dietary flavonoid intakes.