Structures of clovamide and deoxyclovamide.
with cocoa materials themselves. However, the flavonoids identified in cocoa can be found in a wide variety of plant materials, and some of these, like tea, have been the subject of many experiments. Purified compounds have also been extensively studied. The literature on the biological effects of flavonoids has recently been reviewed by the British Industrial Biological Research Association (BIBRA) (27) on behalf of the UK's Biscuit, Cake, Chocolate and Confectionery Alliance. The beneficial effects were reviewed under three main headings: antigenotoxicity, anticarcinogenic activity and antioxidant activity. Other protective effects were also noted as appropriate, but many of these probably relate to antioxidant properties. In fact, antioxidant effects are now believed to be fundamental to most of the protective effects of flavonoids as well as a number of other phytoprotectant molecules.
()-Epicatechin Anticancer Activity
Epicatechin is the flavonoid at greatest concentration in fermented cocoa beans (leaving aside the polymeric forms for which there is no quantitative data), and this discussion therefore concentrates on this constituent.
The development of cancer is a multi-stage process (28). In the initial stage, the genome (that is, the DNA) is damaged as a result of the action of chemical carcinogens, viruses, radiation, replication errors, etc. Much of this damage is oxidative in nature. For example, a potential chemical carcinogen may be converted by the body's detoxification enzymes to a chemical, which reacts with cellular DNA to cause a mutation. While repair mechanisms within the cell remove much of the damage, some can remain in the genome, resulting in a
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