Citrus Flavonoids, Anticancer, Neuro-protective & Metabolic Potential

Chinese researchers recently published a paper reviewing the use of citrus flavonoids to treat cancer and protect the neurological system. The paper, published in the academic journal Antioxidants, conducted a scientometric and critical review of the growing body of research. As they note, the study of flavonoids dates back to 1955.

The Review

The researchers reviewed over 3,200 publications, with most of the articles published in 25 different academic journals.


  • Anticancer activities (studies have included breast cancer, gastric cancer, lung cancer, rectal cancer, and liver cancer);
  • Neuroprotective effects (reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease);
  • Metabolic disease protection (reducing the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus).

How do they work?

  • They prevent cancer cells from proliferating and migrating, they block the formation of new blood vessels to nourish the cancer cells, as well as essentially programming cancer cells to die.
  • They protect the nervous system by reducing the production of proteins associated with Alzheimer’s, as well as protecting cells with antioxidant action.
  • They help to regulate metabolism by lowering lipid levels in the blood, among other effects.

Study of the citrus family has found that the plants come from the Himalayan region, and originated about 6 to 8 million years ago. Most species are the descendants of either the grapefruit, the citron, or wild oranges. In addition to food, the fruits, and in particular, the dried peel, has been used in traditional medicines for thousands of years in Ancient Egypt, China, and India.

The accumulated knowledge of traditional medicines is reinforced as science delves deeper and deeper into the health benefits of citrus flavonoids. However, flavonoids aren’t the only beneficial compounds to be found in citrus fruits. They also include fiber, another crucial element of a healthy diet, as well as phenolic acids.

As the paper’s authors note, “In conclusion, digesting more citrus fruits in our daily diet is likely to be beneficial to our health.”

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