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What Are Antioxidants and Cancer?

In order to comprehend antioxidants and cancer prevention, we must first know what antioxidants are and then how they help our bodies rid themselves of cancer. Research scientists don't fully understand the relationship between antioxidants and cancer prevention , but non profits, private organizations, and governments are engaged in ongoing research to investigate potential pros and cons and different medical interactions.


An antioxidant is a molecule capable of slowing or preventing the oxidation of other molecules (Wikipeda). In other words it is a molecule that may be used to help protect cells from the damaging effects of unstable molecules known as free radicals. The harm caused by free radicals may cause cancer.

Laboratory evidence from chemical, cell culture, and animal studies indicates that antioxidants may slow or possibly prevent cancers This apparent benefit of antioxidants has prompted many people, cancer patients and healthy people alike, to turn to supplements. People hope that bigger amounts of these compounds will have a more protective effect.

Antioxidants are abundantly found in nuts, grains, fruits and vegetables, as well as some meats, poultry, and fish.

Free radicals naturally occur as the body ages and the devastating damage they create could possibly lead to changes in cells eventually causing severe tumors.


Antioxidants and Cancer

The media has highly publicized the link between antioxidants and cancer prevention. But there have been mixed results on research into the effects of different antioxidants on cancer.

Because different foods contain different amounts of antioxidants, as well as numerous other substances that could influence cancer risk, it is extremely difficult for researchers to answer this question. Some concerns might be noxious when given with cancer treatment because they could help the cancer cells repair themselves. In fact, a recent report by the US Preventive Services Task Force concluded that there is too little evidence to either recommend for or against taking vitamins (including antioxidants) for cancer prevention.

Several doctors and colleagues examined studies into antioxidants and cancer therapy in the May 27 online edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Researchers found that there were only three controlled studies on radiation and antioxidants.

One of these studies found that the probability of death was raised when given antioxidant treatment. Researchers said that the antioxidants may protect cancer cells from harm just like normal cells, consequently preventing cancer treatments from killing tumors.

Due to the few and varied studies done on antioxidants and cancer, doctors are finding it very difficult to give people advice on the subject. Until researchers know more and better studies are done, experts say to eat a healthy balanced diet to help lower the risk of cancer.

The researchers also found 16 randomized controlled trials, but the findings were not conclusive. Overall the study apparently shows that high-dose supplements may be more harmful than helpful. The problem facing doctors today is that too little is known about how antioxidant supplements actually act against disease.