Reducing Breast Cancer Recurrence: The Role of Dietary Polyphenolics

Nutrients. 2016 Sep 6;8(9):547. doi: 10.3390/nu8090547.


Evidence from numerous observational and clinical studies suggest that polyphenolic phytochemicals such as phenolic acids in olive oil, flavonols in tea, chocolate and grapes, and isoflavones in soy products reduce the risk of breast cancer. A dietary food pattern naturally rich in polyphenols is the Mediterranean diet and evidence suggests those of Mediterranean descent have a lower breast cancer incidence. Whilst dietary polyphenols have been the subject of breast cancer risk-reduction, this review will focus on the clinical effects of polyphenols on reducing recurrence. Overall, we recommend breast cancer patients consume a diet naturally high in flavonol polyphenols including tea, vegetables (onion, broccoli), and fruit (apples, citrus). At least five servings of vegetables and fruit daily appear protective. Moderate soy protein consumption (5-10 g daily) and the Mediterranean dietary pattern show the most promise for breast cancer patients. In this review, we present an overview of clinical trials on supplementary polyphenols of dietary patterns rich in polyphenols on breast cancer recurrence, mechanistic data, and novel delivery systems currently being researched.

Keywords: breast cancer; human trials; polyphenols.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage
  • Antioxidants / pharmacokinetics
  • Biological Availability
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Carcinogens / toxicity
  • DNA Damage / drug effects
  • Diet, Mediterranean*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Female
  • Fruit / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / prevention & control*
  • Observational Studies as Topic
  • Phytochemicals / administration & dosage
  • Phytochemicals / blood
  • Phytochemicals / pharmacokinetics
  • Polyphenols / administration & dosage*
  • Polyphenols / blood
  • Polyphenols / pharmacokinetics
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Vegetables / chemistry


  • Antioxidants
  • Biomarkers
  • Carcinogens
  • Phytochemicals
  • Polyphenols