Flavonoids

Add Some Flavonoids to Your Cigarettes-and-Booze Diet, You Degenerate

Eating your fruits and veggies is associated with lower mortality rates — even among smokers and heavy drinkers

There’s a new health trend you can use to convince your skeptical parents that smoking weed might actually be good for you.

Flavonoids (not to be confused with Flavor Flav stans) are a group of phytonutrients, or chemical compounds, found in plant-based foods such as apples, vegetables, chocolate and, yes, marijuana. Two new studies, one by the Danish Diet Cancer and Health Cohort and another by a group of Boston researchers, extol flavonoids’ abilities to ward off death and fight cancer. Don’t be surprised if Gwyneth Paltrow releases a flavonoid-infused jade yoni egg in the next Goop catalog.

Flavonoids, Cancer and Mortality Rates

“It is known that diets rich in fruits and vegetables are associated with lower morbidity and mortality,” says Fred Stevens, Associate Director for Research at Oregon State University’s Linus Pauling Institute. Stevens specializes in vitamins and dietary phytochemicals, and yes, he believes in the benefits of flavonoids. “The novel aspect here is the Danish cohort and the more pronounced beneficial effects in smokers and alcohol consumers,” he explains for MEL. “The second one is completely novel.”

Researchers at the Danish Diet Cancer and Health Cohort analyzed the diets of 56,048 Danes over 23 years and found patients with high flavonoid intake had lower mortality rates. Most surprisingly, the highest association was among smokers, heavy drinkers and the obese.

Stevens says the big takeaway isn’t the mortality rate. Flavonoids are rich in fruits and vegetables, but so is vitamin C. It’s not so simple to state that it’s the flavonoids in an apple slice or squash puree that keep you healthier longer, and if you’re thinking of adding a squirt of lime or dash of pepper flakes to the next spliff you roll, stop right there.

“I wouldn’t recommend eating fruits and vegetables to counteract the detrimental health effects of smoking and consuming high amounts of alcohol,” Stevens says.

What We Know About Cannabis Chemical Cannflavin V

However, marijuana might soon be a way to counteract cancer risk. A second study, published in Frontiers in Oncology, found the flavonoid cannflavin B in cannabis reduced the risk of pancreatic cancer, which has an 8 percent survival rate. Cannflavin B increases a process called apoptosis, in which cells “commit suicide.” Apoptosis occurring in human fetal development separates webbed feet into toes by attacking the webbed cells. Similarly, cannflavin B can increase apoptosis, attacking cancer cells.

Stevens says the study, conducted on mice xenografted with pancreatic cancer cells, is too preliminary to make major conclusions. “I found the results very compelling and promising, but one needs to keep in mind that they are still at the preclinical stage and we don’t know whether the effects of the derivative hold up in patients with pancreatic cancer.”

The bottom line: Flavonoids are a promising start to a healthy life, but not the full package — just like all the men I’ve gone on dates with this year.

The Best Flavonoid Foods to Try

If you are looking to add flavonoids to your diet, it’s pretty easy to do. According to Oregon State University’s Micronutrient Information Center, everything from berries and red wine to hot peppers and soybeans offers a good dose of flavonoids.

The only C grade I ever received in high school was in chemistry, so I asked Stevens to simplify the jargon for me. Are both studies long-winded excuses to simply say, “Eat your fruits and veggies”? His response: “Yes! Also important: Do not smoke. And consume alcohol in moderate amounts.”