Flavonoids: promising anticancer agents

Med Res Rev. 2003 Jul;23(4):519-34. doi: 10.1002/med.10033.


Flavonoids are polyphenolic compounds that are ubiquitously in plants. They have been shown to possess a variety of biological activities at nontoxic concentrations in organisms. The role of dietary flavonoids in cancer prevention is widely discussed. Compelling data from laboratory studies, epidemiological investigations, and human clinical trials indicate that flavonoids have important effects on cancer chemoprevention and chemotherapy. Many mechanisms of action have been identified, including carcinogen inactivation, antiproliferation, cell cycle arrest, induction of apoptosis and differentiation, inhibition of angiogenesis, antioxidation and reversal of multidrug resistance or a combination of these mechanisms. Based on these results, flavonoids may be promising anticancer agents.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antioxidants / chemistry
  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Cycle
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Division
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Flavonoids / chemistry*
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Chemical
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic
  • Plant Extracts


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Flavonoids
  • Plant Extracts