In the 1970s quercetin was considered to be carcinogenic after demonstrating mutagenicity in the Ames test; however subsequent long-term studies have refuted this and demonstrated an anticarcinogenic effect in laboratory animals (Erlund 2004).

In vitro and preliminary animal and human data indicate that quercetin inhibits tumour growth and induces apoptosis. The anticarcinogenic effects may be due to its antioxidant properties, protection against DNA damage, inhibition of angiogenesis, effects on gene expression, effects on cell cycle regulation, phyto-oestrogen-like activity, interaction with type II oestrogen binding sites and tyrosine kinase inhibition (Duraj et al 2005, Erlund 2004, Igura et al 2001, Lamson & Brignall 2000, Lee et al 2003, 2006, Tan et al 2003, van der Woude et al 2005, Wilms et al 2005).

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