Flavonoids in Food: How Potent Is Their Protection?

By Adler, Tina | Environmental Health Perspectives, December 2003 | Go to article overview

Flavonoids in Food: How Potent Is Their Protection?


Adler, Tina, Environmental Health Perspectives


Telling a child "eat your chemoprotective phytochemicals" is just one way of saying "eat your vegetables--they're good for you!" Now science can back up this parental wisdom with molecular studies that demonstrate plants' disease-fighting potential. In vitro studies have shown that certain phytochemicals called flavonoids interact with the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), the same receptor through which 2,3,7,8,-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) and other halogenated aromatic compounds exert their toxic and mutagenic effects. In some types of cancer cells, flavonoids may inhibit TCDD from activating the AhR, exerting a chemoprotective effect, report Shu Zhang, Chunhua Qin, and Stephen H. Safe of Texas A&M University [EHP 111:1877-1882].

Zhang and colleagues assert that the traditional method for measuring TCDD toxicity fails to address the increasing evidence that the AhR binds a host of endogenous chemicals considered to be chemoprotective, such as phytochemicals. In other words, TCDD may not be as dangerous to human health as expected, given that we eat foods that may protect against its effects. The team therefore assessed the interaction of TCDD and flavonoids with an eye toward determining whether the effect of flavonoids needs to be taken into consideration when assessing the overall toxicity of TCDD to humans.

The researchers used an AhR-responsive assay to test the action of 13 dietary flavonoids in human breast and liver cancer cells and mouse liver cancer cells. …

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Flavonoids in Food: How Potent Is Their Protection?
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