Polyphenol Intake and Epithelial Ovarian Cancer Risk in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) Study

Antioxidants (Basel). 2021 Aug 4;10(8):1249. doi: 10.3390/antiox10081249.


Despite some epidemiological evidence on the protective effects of polyphenol intake on epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) risk from case-control studies, the evidence is scarce from prospective studies and non-existent for several polyphenol classes. Therefore, we aimed to investigate the associations between the intake of total, classes and subclasses of polyphenols and EOC risk in a large prospective study. The study was conducted in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort, which included 309,129 adult women recruited mostly from the general population. Polyphenol intake was assessed through validated country-specific dietary questionnaires and the Phenol-Explorer database. During a mean follow-up of 14 years, 1469 first incident EOC cases (including 806 serous, 129 endometrioid, 102 mucinous, and 67 clear cell tumours) were identified. In multivariable-adjusted Cox regression models, the hazard ratio in the highest quartile of total polyphenol intake compared with the lowest quartile (HRQ4vsQ1) was 1.14 (95% CI 0.94-1.39; p-trend = 0.11). Similarly, the intake of most classes and subclasses of polyphenols were not related to either overall EOC risk or any EOC subtype. A borderline statistically significant positive association was observed between phenolic acid intake (HRQ4vsQ1 = 1.20, 95% CI 1.01-1.43; p-trend = 0.02) and EOC risk, especially for the serous subtype and in women with obesity, although these associations did not exceed the Bonferroni correction threshold. The current results do not support any association between polyphenol intake and EOC in our large European prospective study. Results regarding phenolic acid intake need further investigation.

Keywords: EPIC; cohort; flavonoids; intake; ovarian cancer; polyphenols.