Hormones and Cancer

, Volume 4, Issue 5, pp 293–300

Endocrine Disrupting Activities of the Flavonoid Nutraceuticals Luteolin and Quercetin


    • Department of PathologyUniversity of Colorado School of Medicine
  • Betty J. Bona
    • Department of PathologyUniversity of Colorado School of Medicine
  • David N. Jones
    • Department of PharmacologyUniversity of Colorado School of Medicine
  • James R. Lambert
    • Department of PathologyUniversity of Colorado School of Medicine
  • Twila A. Jackson
    • Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyUniversity of Colorado School of Medicine
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s12672-013-0150-1

Cite this article as:
Nordeen, S.K., Bona, B.J., Jones, D.N. et al. HORM CANC (2013) 4: 293. doi:10.1007/s12672-013-0150-1


Dietary plant flavonoids have been proposed to contribute to cancer prevention, neuroprotection, and cardiovascular health through their anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, pro-apoptotic, and antiproliferative activities. As a consequence, flavonoid supplements are aggressively marketed by the nutraceutical industry for many purposes, including pediatric applications, despite inadequate understanding of their value and drawbacks. We show that two flavonoids, luteolin and quercetin, are promiscuous endocrine disruptors. These flavonoids display progesterone antagonist activity beneficial in a breast cancer model but deleterious in an endometrial cancer model. Concurrently, luteolin possesses potent estrogen agonist activity while quercetin is considerably less effective. These results highlight the promise and peril of flavonoid nutraceuticals and suggest caution in supplementation beyond levels attained in a healthy, plant-rich diet.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013