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Impact of thearubigins on the estimation of total dietary flavonoids in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study


Thearubigins (TR) are polymeric flavanol-derived compounds formed during the fermentation of tea leaves. Comprising 70% of total polyphenols in black tea, TR may contribute majorly to its beneficial effects on health. To date, there is no appropriate food composition data on TR, although several studies have used data from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) database to estimate TR intakes. We aimed to estimate dietary TR in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort and assess the impact of including TR or not in the calculation of the total dietary flavonoid intake. Dietary data were collected using a single standardized 24-h dietary recall interviewer-administered to 36 037 subjects aged 35–74 years. TR intakes were calculated using the USDA database. TR intakes ranged from 0.9 mg/day in men from Navarra and San Sebastian in Spain to 532.5 mg/day in men from UK general population. TR contributed <5% to the total flavonoid intake in Greece, Spain and Italy, whereas in the UK general population, TR comprised 48% of the total flavonoids. High heterogeneity in TR intake across the EPIC countries was observed. This study shows that total flavonoid intake may be greatly influenced by TR, particularly in high black tea-consuming countries. Further research on identification and quantification of TR is needed to get more accurate dietary TR estimations.

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This work was carried out with the financial support of the European Commission: Public Health and Consumer Protection Directorate 1993–2004; Research Directorate-General 2005; French League against Cancer, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale(INSERM), Mutuelle Générale de l’Education Nationale, Institut Gustave Roussy (France); German Cancer Aid; German Cancer Research Center; German Federal Ministry of Education and Research; Danish Cancer Society; the Spanish Ministry of Health (ISCIII RETICC RD06/0020/0091); Spanish Regional Governments of Andalusia, Asturias, Basque Country, Murcia (No 6236) and Navarra and the Catalan Institute of Oncology; Cancer Research UK and the Medical Research Council (United Kingdom); the Stroke Association, UK; British Heart Foundation; Department of Health, UK; Food Standards Agency, UK; the Wellcome Trust, UK; the Hellenic Health Foundation and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation; Italian Association for Research on Cancer; Compagnia San Paolo, Italy; Dutch Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sports; Dutch Ministry of Health; Dutch Prevention Funds; LK Research Funds; Dutch ZON (Zorg Onderzoek Nederland); World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF); Statistics Netherlands (The Netherlands); Swedish Cancer Society; Swedish Scientific Council; Regional Government of Skane, Sweden; Nordforsk—Center of Excellence programme; Some authors are partners of ECNIS, a network of excellence of the 6FP of the EC. RZR is thankful for a postdoctoral ‘Sara Borrell’ program (CD09/00133) from the MEC and the Instituto de Salud Carlos III. We also thank Raul M García for developing an application to link the FCDB and the 24-HDR.

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Correspondence to R Zamora-Ros.

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Contributors: RZ-R and CAG designed the research; RZ-R and VK conducted the research; RZ-R performed the statistical analysis; RZ-R wrote the manuscript; all authors read, critically reviewed and approved the final manuscript.

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Zamora-Ros, R., Knaze, V., Romieu, I. et al. Impact of thearubigins on the estimation of total dietary flavonoids in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study. Eur J Clin Nutr 67, 779–782 (2013).

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  • thearubigins
  • flavonoids
  • dietary intake
  • sources
  • EPIC

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