Black tea might be a critical element in the prevention of ovarian cancer. The widely-consumed beverage contains flavonoids which are known for their action on cellular signalling pathways. A new study has shown a link between the high intake of the substances and reduced ovarian cancer risk.
Ovarian cancer affects women worldwide. Fighting the disease becomes more and more pressing with each passing year. While the methodologies of combatting cancer are not without complications, holistic approaches like making the most of natural resources as preventive measures are widely seen as highly desirable because of their feasibility. In this line of thought, researchers have in the past tested for correlations between dietary intake and occurrence of ovarian cancer (one of its major forms being epithelial ovarian cancer).
Many researchers have suggested that diets rich in fruits and vegetables are linked with a reduced risk of developing the cancer. This might be the result of the action of flavonoids which are found in fruits and vegetables; the chemicals are known to adjust key cellular signalling pathways, and interfere in cancer-related inflammation pathways. Therefore, scientists have thought that flavonoids might help decrease the occurrence of ovarian cancer risk. However, the results were not conclusive. Therefore, a team of scientists have decided to investigate the correlation between flavonoid intake and ovarian cancer risk.
Flavonols, which are a class of flavonoids, are found in beverages like tea, and citrus fruit juices. Another class of flavonoids are the flavanones, which are also found in juices.
To determine the link between the two variables, the scientists analysed the dietary habits of 171 940 women falling in the age range 25-55. The data was collected over 30 years.
“This is the first large-scale study looking into whether habitual intake of different flavonoids can reduce the risk of epithelial ovarian cancer,” says lead author Prof. Aedin Cassidy.
The researchers obtained the data from validated food-frequency questionnaires.
They found that the main dietary sources of flavonols were:-
- Black tea (31%)
- Onions (20%)
The main sources of flavanones were:-
- Citrus fruit (36%; 27% from orange intake)
- Juices (63%; 54% from orange juice).
The results that were yielded from the analysis of the data showed that those participants with the highest flavonol and flavanone intakes had a decreased risk of having epithelial ovarian cancer as compared to those with the lowest intakes.
Prof. Cassidy summarised their data by saying:
“The main source of these compounds include tea and citrus fruits and juices, which are readily incorporated into the diet, suggesting that simple changes in food intake could have an impact on reducing ovarian cancer risk. In particular, just a couple of cups of black tea every day was associated with a 31% reduction in risk.”
However, the study has its own limitations. In spite of the large sample size that is definitely a plus point, the flavonoid varies in different food, and this depends on factors like growth and processing conditions.
he scientists of the study thereafter concluded that higher consumption of flavonols and flavanones together with black tea might be linked with a lower risk of developing ovarian cancer. However, they also added that more studies have to be carried out to validate their own results.