Cancer preventive effects of flavonoids--a review

Biomed Pharmacother. 2002 Aug;56(6):296-301. doi: 10.1016/s0753-3322(02)00186-5.


A cancer protective effect from plant-derived foods has been found with uncommon consistency in epidemiologic studies. However, it has been difficult to identify specific components responsible for this effect. Many phytochemicals have been shown to be biologically active and they may interact to protect against cancer. In recent years, experimental studies have provided growing evidence for the beneficial action of flavonoids on multiple cancer-related biological pathways (carcinogen bioactivation, cell-signaling, cell cycle regulation, angiogenesis, oxidative stress, inflammation). Although the epidemiologic data on flavonoids and cancer are still limited and conflicting, some protective associations have been suggested for flavonoid-rich foods (soy and premenopausal breast cancer; green tea and stomach cancer; onion and lung cancer). This review focuses on the biological effects of the main flavonoids, as well as the epidemiologic evidence that support their potential cancer protective properties.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinogens / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Carcinogens / metabolism
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology
  • Flavonoids / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / diet therapy*
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Soybeans
  • Tea


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Carcinogens
  • Flavonoids
  • Tea