Dietary flavonoid intake and thyroid cancer risk in the NIH-AARP diet and health study

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2014 Jun;23(6):1102-8. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-13-1150. Epub 2014 Mar 31.


Experimental studies suggested that flavonoids may influence thyroid carcinogenesis, but epidemiologic evidence is sparse. No study has examined different classes of flavonoids in relation to thyroid cancer risk. Using data from the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study, which enrolled 491,840 U.S. men and women, ages 50 to 71 years at baseline, we prospectively examined the risk of thyroid cancer in relation to dietary intakes of catechins, flavanones, flavonols, anthocyanidins, flavones, isoflavones, and total flavonoids. Dietary intakes were assessed using a food frequency questionnaire. Cancer cases were ascertained by linkage to state cancer registries. Multivariable-adjusted Cox proportional hazard models were used to estimate HRs and 95% confidence intervals (CI). During follow up (mean = 9 years), we identified 586 thyroid cancer cases. Thyroid cancer risk was inversely associated with dietary flavan-3-ols [HRQ5 vs. Q1 (95% CI): 0.70 (0.55, 0.91), PTrend = 0.03], but positively associated with flavanones [HRQ5 vs. Q1 (95% CI): 1.50 (1.14, 1.96), PTrend = 0.004]. Other classes of flavonoids and total flavonoids were not associated with thyroid cancer risk. Similar associations were found for papillary thyroid cancer. Our findings suggest that dietary intake of different classes of dietary flavonoids may have divergent effects on thyroid cancer risk. More studies are needed to clarify a role of flavonoids in thyroid cancer development. Results from our study suggest a potential nutritional etiology of thyroid cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev; 23(6); 1102-8. ©2014 AACR.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Flavonoids / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • National Institutes of Health (U.S.)
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / diet therapy*
  • United States


  • Flavonoids