A review of the epidemiological evidence on tea, flavonoids, and lung cancer

I.C. Arts*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Tea and its main bioactive ingredients, the flavonoids, have been associated with human cancer for several decades. In this article, an overview is provided of observational epidemiological studies of lung cancer incidence in relation to intake of green tea, black tea, flavonols/flavones, and catechins. A PubMed search was conducted in September 2007. Articles were selected if they provided risk ratios (relative risk or odds ratio) for lung cancer and were of observational design (cohort, case-control, or case-cohort). Three of 12 studies reported a significantly lower risk of lung cancer with a high intake of flavonoids, whereas 1 study reported a significantly increased risk. After stratification by type of flavonoid, catechin intake was no longer associated with lung cancer risk in 3 of 4 studies available. For tea, 4 of 20 studies reported significantly reduced risks with high intake. Two studies found significantly increased risk ratios, but both were older studies. Findings were similar for green and black tea but became more significant when only methodologically sounder cohort studies were considered. When tea intake and lung cancer were studied among never- or former smokers to eliminate the confounding effect of smoking, 4 of 7 reported associations were significantly protective. In general, the studies on tea, flavonoids, and lung cancer risk indicate a small beneficial association, particularly among never-smokers. More well-designed cohort studies, in particular for catechins, are needed to strengthen the evidence on effects of long-term exposure to physiological doses of dietary flavonoids.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1561s-1566s
    JournalJournal of Nutrition
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008

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