Women who drink tea or citrus juices have a far lower chance of developing ovarian cancer. Flavonoids in the drinks have a protective effect, and just drinking two cups of black tea a day reduces the risk by a third.
Health regulators have blocked manufacturers from making any health claims for flavonoids because the studies have been very small-but all that may change with the latest research, undertaken by the University of East Anglia.
Their study involves 171,490 women aged between 25 and 55, whose diets were monitored for more than 30 years. In that time, they were able to draw a direct line between drinking flavonoids and the risk of developing epithelial ovarian cancer.
Flavonoids come in two varieties: the favonols, which are found in tea, red wine, and in apples and grapes, and flavanones, which are in citrus fruits and juices.
The researchers say that introducing flavonoids into the diet is very simple, and can have long-lasting health benefits.
Ovarian cancer is the fifth most lethal cancer, and 6,500 new cases in the UK and 20,000 in the US are diagnosed every year.
(Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2014; 100(5): 1344)