A prospective study of dietary flavonoid intake and incidence of epithelial ovarian cancer

Int J Cancer. 2007 Nov 15;121(10):2225-32. doi: 10.1002/ijc.22790.


Flavonoids are antioxidant compounds found in plants, including fruits, vegetables and tea. No prior prospective studies have examined the association between intake of flavonoids in the flavonol and flavone subclasses and ovarian cancer risk. We analyzed the association between intake of 5 common dietary flavonoids and incidence of epithelial ovarian cancer among 66,940 women in the Nurses' Health Study. We calculated each participant's intake of myricetin, kaempferol, quercetin, luteolin and apigenin from dietary data collected at multiple time points, and used Cox proportional hazards regression to model the incidence rate ratio (RR) of ovarian cancer for each quintile of intake. Our analysis included 347 cases diagnosed between 1984 and 2002, and 950,347 person-years of follow-up. There was no clear association between total intake of the 5 flavonoids examined and incidence of ovarian cancer (RR = 0.75 for the highest versus lowest quintile, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.51-1.09). However, there was a significant 40% decrease in ovarian cancer incidence for the highest versus lowest quintile of kaempferol intake (RR = 0.60, 95% CI = 0.42-0.87; p-trend = 0.002), and a significant 34% decrease in incidence for the highest versus lowest quintile of luteolin intake (RR = 0.66, 95% CI = 0.49-0.91; p-trend = 0.01). There was evidence of an inverse association with consumption of tea (nonherbal) and broccoli, the primary contributors to kaempferol intake in our population. These data suggest that dietary intake of certain flavonoids may reduce ovarian cancer risk, although additional prospective studies are needed to further evaluate this association. If confirmed, these results would provide an important target for ovarian cancer prevention.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Time Factors


  • Flavonoids