Risks and safety of polyphenol consumption

Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Jan;81(1 Suppl):326S-329S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/81.1.326S.


This article gives an overview of the potential hazards of polyphenol consumption, as reported during the round-table discussion at the 1st International Conference on Polyphenols and Health, held in Vichy, France, November 2003. Adverse effects of polyphenols have been evaluated primarily in experimental studies. It is known, for example, that certain polyphenols may have carcinogenic/genotoxic effects or may interfere with thyroid hormone biosynthesis. Isoflavones are of particular interest because of their estrogenic activity, for which beneficial as well as detrimental effects have been observed. Furthermore, consumption of polyphenols inhibits nonheme iron absorption and may lead to iron depletion in populations with marginal iron stores. Finally, polyphenols may interact with certain pharmaceutical agents and enhance their biologic effects. It is important to consider the doses at which these effects occur, in relation to the concentrations that naturally occur in the human body. Future studies evaluating either beneficial or adverse effects should therefore include relevant forms and doses of polyphenols and, before the development of fortified foods or supplements with pharmacologic doses, safety assessments of the applied doses should be performed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinogens
  • Diet*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Flavonoids / administration & dosage
  • Flavonoids / adverse effects*
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Phenols / administration & dosage
  • Phenols / adverse effects*
  • Phenols / pharmacology
  • Polyphenols
  • Risk Assessment
  • Safety


  • Carcinogens
  • Flavonoids
  • Phenols
  • Polyphenols