Flavonoids and intestinal cancers

Br J Nutr. 2008 May;99 E Suppl 1:ES53-9. doi: 10.1017/S0007114508965764.


Cancers of the gastrointestinal tract are amongst the most common causes of death from cancer, but there is substantial variation in incidence across populations. This is consistent with a major causative role for diet. There is convincing evidence that fruits and vegetables protect against cancers of the upper alimentary tract and the large bowel, and this has focused attention on biologically active phytochemicals, and on flavonoids in particular. Many flavonoids exert anticarcinogenic effects in vitro and in animals, and many of these effects occur via signalling pathways known to be important in the pathogenesis of colorectal, gastric and oesophageal cancers. However dietary flavonoid intakes are generally low and their metabolism in humans is extremely complex. The advent of new post-genomic technologies will do much to address these problems by making it possible to monitor patterns of gene expression in humans to provide essential molecular biomarkers of early disease. By combining such data with knowledge of the dietary exposure and bioavailability of the most effective compounds it will be possible to predict the most effective dietary sources and to properly evaluate the potential role of flavonoids in clinical nutrition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Diet*
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Flavonoids / therapeutic use*
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Stomach Neoplasms / prevention & control


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Flavonoids