(NaturalNews) High intake of foods containing the natural plant compound
apigenin might decrease a woman's risk of ovarian cancer, researchers
from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School have found.

Apigenin
is a class of flavonoid, a phytonutrient (plant compound) family known
for its high antioxidant activity. Antioxidants are renowned for
removing cell-damaging free radicals from the body, thereby reducing the
symptoms of aging and the risk of chronic disease such as cancer and
heart disease.

Foods high in apigenin include celery, parsley, tomato sauce
and red wine. The compound is widely believed to be safe when consumed
in plant foods , with
no toxic or mutagenic effects.

In a study funded by the National
Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health, and published
in the International Journal of Cancer, researchers gave
questionnaires to 1,141 ovarian cancer
patients and 1,183 women of similar age to assess the content of their diets over the course
of one week. The average participant age was 51. Women with ovarian cancer were more
likely to be heavier and have a higher daily calorie intake, with a less
healthy diet than the healthy women.

The researchers used the
questionnaires to calculate the participants' intake of five different,
common flavonoids :
apigenin, kaempferol, luteolin, myricetin and quercetin. The bulk of
these antioxidants
in the women's diets came from tea, red wine , apples,
blueberries, celery, kale, lettuce, oranges and tomato sauce.

Higher
intake of certain rich-rich foods such as cauliflower, raisins and
tomato sauce was associated with a decreased risk of ovarian cancer,
though this correlation was not statistically significant. There was no
correlation between total flavonoid consumption and cancer risk after
adjusting for known cancer risk factors such as age, physical activity,
use of oral contraceptives, and history of childbirth, breastfeeding
and tubal ligation. There was also no correlation between cancer risk
and any of the flavonoids except for apigenin.

Women with the
highest apigenin intake, however, had a "borderline significant" 28
percent lower risk of ovarian cancer than women with the lowest intake,
after adjusting for other risk factors and intake of the other four
flavonoids.

Ovarian cancer is among the most lethal forms of
cancer in women. There are 20,000 new cases in the United States each
year, leading to 15,000 deaths per year. According to the Ovarian Cancer
National Alliance, the disease affects one in 69 women and kills one in
95.

This study is not the first to indicate a connection between
apigenin and decreased cancer risk. Previous research has found that
apigenin decreases the structural stability and inhibits the expression
of a protein that is involved in the migration of ovarian cancer cells to
other parts of the body. It has also been more directly observed to
interfere with the movement of ovarian cancer cells. Apigenin has also
been shown to inhibit the expression in ovarian cancer cells of a
protein linked to the development of blood vessels in tumors, as well as
overall tumor growth.

Other studies have found that apigenin
inhibits the growth of some breast cancers and may induce programmed
cell death. Higher intake of other flavonoids has also been shown to
reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.