Lexington, Ky. – Plants put up a natural defense system against bacteria and disease through bioactive chemical constituents called flavonoids.
While humans have turned to plants and herbs for medicinal purposes throughout history, researchers are now learning how to harness the chemopreventive properties of flavonoids to prevent human disease. Medical research suggests they can prevent the development of steroid-responsive cancers, but not all flavonoids serve the same beneficial function.
In her new book, “Flavonoids, Inflammation and Cancer,” Hollie Swanson, a University of Kentucky researcher in the Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences, describes how flavonoids serve a function of preventing or reducing inflammation associated with gastrointestinal and steroid-responsive cancers, including breast, bowel, colon and prostate cancers. Swanson provides a comprehensive discussion of the power of flavonoids, providing a scientific analysis of the functions of various flavonoids at the molecular level and progressing to a discussion of epidemiological studies demonstrating the cancer-fighting potential of flavonoids in human populations.
The role of flavonoids in blocking cancer-causing agents was central to Swanson’s early research as a graduate student. Today, Swanson’s primary research areas are environmental toxicology, drug metabolism and nuclear receptors, but she has returned to studying the plant pigments throughout her academic career. She said an interest in researching the chemopreventive properties of flavonoids has increased in recent years. Studies show a diet consisting of fruits and vegetables with high concentrations of flavonoids is associated with decreased cancer mortality rates.
“Our diets are very complex and so are our chronic disease states, including cancer,” Swanson said. “We must continue to tease out this relationship through research.”
Swanson reiterates that not all flavonoids are equally effective in preventing cancer. She recommends consuming a diet that consists of fresh fruits and vegetables, which are natural sources of flavonoids that cannot be replicated through supplements.
For more information about Swanson’s book, click here.