Breast cancer (BC) remains the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths in women in the US, despite advances in detection and treatment. In addition, breast cancer survivors often struggle with long-term treatment related comorbidities. Identifying novel therapies that are effective while minimizing toxicity is critical in curtailing this disease. Flavonoids, a subclass of plant polyphenols, are emerging as promising treatment options for the prevention and treatment of breast cancer. Recent evidence suggests that in addition to anti-oxidant properties, flavonoids can directly interact with proteins, making them ideal small molecules for the modulation of enzymes, transcription factors and cell surface receptors. Of particular interest is the ability of flavonoids to modulate the tumor associated macrophage function. However, clinical applications of flavonoids in cancer trials are limited. Epidemiological and smaller clinical studies have been largely hypothesis generating. Future research should aim at addressing known challenges with a broader use of preclinical models and investigating enhanced dose-delivery systems that can overcome limited bioavailability of dietary flavonoids. In this review, we discuss the structure-functional impact of flavonoids and their action on breast tumor cells and the tumor microenvironment, with an emphasis on their clinical role in the prevention and treatment of breast cancer.
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