Flavonoids are a class of water-soluble plant pigments found in fruits, vegetables, and certain beverages that have antioxidant effects. Antioxidants are compounds that protect cells against the damaging effects of reactive chemicals known as free radicals. Free radicals can cause oxidative stress, leading to cellular damage. There are different categories of flavonoids. Flavones, isoflavones and anthocyanidins are all types of flavonoids.

Research appearing in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention (Nov 2007, Vol 16, # 11, pp 2285-2292) found that an increase in the intake of flavonoids can increase breast cancer survival. The researchers used a questionnaire to find out the dietary habits of over 1,200 women during the year before being diagnosed with breast cancer. They were monitored for over five years. During the course of the study 173 of the subjects died, 113 of them died from breast cancer

The researchers found a relationship between high intake of flavonoids and decreased mortality. A high intake of flavones was associated with a 37% reduction in mortality, including from breast cancer, over the course of the study. A high intake of isoflavones was associated with a 48% reduction in mortality. A high intake of anthocyanidins was associated with a 36% reduction in mortality.

This was, of course, a preliminary study that shows us the possibilities for flavonoids. More research is needed. In the words of the researchers, “Mortality may be reduced in association with high levels of dietary flavones and isoflavones among postmenopausal U.S. breast cancer patients. Larger studies are needed to confirm our findings.”