High Flavanoid Level in Diet Lowers Cancer Risk in Smokers

Study participants who consumed approximately 500 mg of total flavonoids each day had the lowest risk of a cancer or heart disease-related death.

A new study by Edith Cowan University has found that flavonoid-rich items, such as apples and tea, protect against cancer and heart disease, particularly among smokers and heavy drinkers.

The study, published in Nature Communications, examined the diets of approximately 53,048 Danish people over 23 years through the Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health cohort. The researchers found that people who habitually consumed moderate to high amounts of food rich in flavonoids, or compounds found in plant-based food and drink, were less likely to die from cancer or heart disease.

Although the study found a lower risk of death in those who ate flavonoid-rich foods, the protective effect appeared to be strongest for those at a high risk of chronic diseases due to cigarette smoking and those who drank more than 2 standard alcoholic drinks a day, according to lead study author, Nicola Bondonno, MD.1

"These findings are important as they highlight the potential to prevent cancer and heart disease by encouraging the consumption of flavonoid-rich foods, particularly in people at high risk of these chronic diseases," she said. "But it's also important to note that flavonoid consumption does not counteract all of the increased risk of death caused by smoking and high alcohol consumption. By far the best thing to do for your health is to quit smoking and cut down on alcohol.”

Study participants who consumed approximately 500 mg of total flavonoids each day had the lowest risk of a cancer or heart disease-related death. Since alcohol consumption and smoking increase inflammation, the anti-inflammatory effects of flavonoids can improve blood vessel function and lower mortality risk.

"We know these kind of lifestyle changes can be very challenging, so encouraging flavonoid consumption might be a novel way to alleviate the increased risk, while also encouraging people to quit smoking and reduce their alcohol intake,” Bondonno concluded.1

Reference

  • Bondonno N, Dalgaard F, Kyro C, et al. Flavanoid intake is associated with lower mortality in the Danish Diet Cancer and Health Cohort. Nature Communications 10. 3651 (2019). Published August 13, 2019. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-11622-x. Accessed September 5, 2019.
  • “Apples, tea and moderation — the 3 ingredients for a long life.” [press release]. Published August 13, 2019. https://www.ecu.edu.au/news/latest-news/2019/08/apples-tea-and-moderation-the-3-ingredients-for-a-long-life. Accessed September 5, 2019.