International Health News

Quercetin - A potent cancer fighter

HELSINKI, FINLAND. There is growing evidence that a high dietary intake of flavonoids helps provide protection against the development of cancer. Finnish researchers now add convincing new data to this evidence. Researchers at the National Public Health Institute have just released the results of a major study involving 10,000 men and women who were followed for a 24-year period. The participants' diet was recorded for a full year and analyzed for flavonoid content. The dietary intake of other selected nutrients and vitamins was also analyzed. After 24 years 997 of the original 9,959 study participants had developed cancer, of which 151 cases were lung cancer. The researchers found that people with a high flavonoid intake (4.15 mg/day average) had a 20 per cent reduction in their risk of cancer as compared to people with a low intake. The risk reduction was particularly impressive in the case of lung cancer where a high flavonoid intake reduced the risk by 46 per cent. Among non-smokers the risk was reduced by an even more impressive 87 per cent. The researchers found no protective effect of beta-carotene, vitamins C or E; however, the intake of these vitamins was very low in the study population (2 mg beta-carotene, 8 mg vitamin E, and 82 mg vitamin C were the maximum average daily intakes). The researchers ascribe most of the protective effect to the consumption of apples. An average daily intake of just 45.2 grams of apples reduced lung cancer risk by 58 per cent as compared to an average intake of 31.2 grams. Apples are a very rich source of quercetin and the researchers estimate that 95 per cent of the beneficial effects of a high flavonoid intake is provided by quercetin.
Knekt, Paul, et al. Dietary flavonoids and the risk of lung cancer and other malignant neoplasmas. American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 146, August 1, 1997, pp. 223-30

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