Flavonoids are polyphenolic compounds subdivided into 6 groups: isoflavonoids, flavanones, flavanols, flavonols, flavones and anthocyanidins found in a variety of plants. Fruits, vegetables, plant-derived beverages such as green tea, wine and cocoa-based products are the main dietary sources of flavonoids. Flavonoids have been shown to possess a wide variety of anticancer effects: they modulate reactive oxygen species (ROS)-scavenging enzyme activities, participate in arresting the cell cycle, induce apoptosis, autophagy, and suppress cancer cell proliferation and invasiveness. Flavonoids have dual action regarding ROS homeostasis—they act as antioxidants under normal conditions and are potent pro-oxidants in cancer cells triggering the apoptotic pathways and downregulating pro-inflammatory signaling pathways. This article reviews the biochemical properties and bioavailability of flavonoids, their anticancer activity and its mechanisms of action.
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