Background: Flavonoids are bioactive polyphenolic compounds found in fruits, vegetables, and beverages of plant origin. Previous studies have shown that flavonoid intake reduces the risk of certain cancers; however, few studies to date have examined associations of flavonoids with upper gastrointestinal cancers or used prospective cohorts.Objective: Our study examined the association between intake of flavonoids (anthocyanidins, flavan-3-ols, flavanones, flavones, flavonols, and isoflavones) and risk of head and neck, esophageal, and gastric cancers.Methods: The NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study is a prospective cohort study that consists of 469,008 participants. Over a mean 12-y follow-up, 2453 head and neck (including 1078 oral cavity, 424 pharyngeal, and 817 laryngeal), 1165 esophageal (890 adenocarcinoma and 275 squamous cell carcinoma), and 1297 gastric (625 cardia and 672 noncardia) cancer cases were identified. We used Cox proportional hazards regression models to estimate HRs and CIs for the associations between flavonoid intake assessed at study baseline and cancer outcomes. For 56 hypotheses examined, P-trend values were adjusted using the Benjamini-Hochberg (BH) procedure for false discovery rate control.Results: The highest quintile of total flavonoid intake was associated with a 24% lower risk of head and neck cancer (HR: 0.76; 95% CI: 0.66, 0.86; BH-adjusted 95% CI: 0.63, 0.91; P-trend = 0.02) compared with the lowest quintile. Notably, anthocyanidins were associated with a 28% lower risk of head and neck cancer (HR: 0.72; 95% CI: 0.62, 0.82; BH-adjusted 95% CI: 0.59, 0.87; P-trend = 0.0005), and flavanones were associated with a 22% lower risk of head and neck cancer (HR: 0.78; 95% CI: 0.68, 0.89; BH-adjusted 95% CI: 0.64, 0.94; P-trend: 0.02). No associations between flavonoid intake and risk of esophageal or gastric cancers were found.Conclusions: Our results indicate that flavonoid intake is associated with lower head and neck cancer risk. These associations suggest a protective effect of dietary flavonoids on head and neck cancer risk, and thus potential as a risk reduction strategy.
Keywords: epidemiology; esophageal cancer; flavonoids; food-frequency questionnaire; gastric cancer; head and neck cancer.
© 2017 American Society for Nutrition.