Do Antioxidants Cause Cancer?

By Anthony / February 19, 2014

Click to comment on article below:

Antioxidants and Cancer Study

Antioxidants and Cancer Study

Dr V. Clears Up The New Study On Antioxidants And Cancer.

By Hector Valenzuela PhD.

Normal functions such as breathing and eating can cause our cells to produce harmful byproducts known as free radicals. The free radicals produced can cause damage to all types of molecules within our cells including our DNA and proteins, and plenty of research has supported the theory that these damaged molecules can lead to various diseases, including cancer.

To counteract the damage caused by free radicals, our cells also produced antioxidants, molecules that can process free radicals into harmless molecules.

Based on these experiments and observations, many researchers have continued to investigate how different antioxidants can affect various types of cancers in an effort to fully understand this relationship, which at times produces shocking results. Case in point, one particular type of cancer and antioxidant appear to give opposite results to the wildly accepted theory of antioxidants and cancers connection.

Does The Study Show That Antioxidants Cause Cancer?

In a recently published paper, a group of researchers observed that NAC and vitamin E antioxidants working together accelerated the growth of lung cancer (Science Translational Medicine, January 2014, vol. 6 page 221). In this article the researchers treated rodent and human lung cancer cells with NAC and vitamin E antioxidants and observed more growth than when compared to the control cells.

In addition, the researchers treated rodents that already had lung cancer with the both NAC and vitamin E antioxidants and the rodent’s survival decreased when compared to the untreated rodents. The researchers ironically proposed that the reason for these results might be because the antioxidants are also protecting the “health” of the cancer cells.

In other words, cancer cells also produce free radicals that damage the cell. The antioxidants may very well be keeping the cancer cells viable by reducing the damaged caused by the free radicals. These results are more alarming and relevant to lung cancer patients largely because patients that have chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases are treated specifically with NAC. This is because NAC besides being an antioxidant, is also a mucolytic, a compound that breakdown mucus and facilitates coughing out mucus from airways.

The Study Shows That Antioxidants Helped Cancer?

Although these findings are very interesting (and alarming), there are few things that need to be put in perspective.

Compounds that facilitate cancer can be grouped into two broad categories: initiators and promoters. Initiators are compounds that can cause cancer and promoters are compounds that support the progression of existing cancer cells but not necessarily create cancer cells.

It appears that these two antioxidants (when combined) do not cause cancer but rather promoted existing cancer, which does not contradict previous antioxidant research, were normal cells appear to be better protected to cancer incidence due to antioxidants.

The authors point out that these antioxidants are structurally different and consequentially the mechanisms of action are different, yet somehow, complementary to one another. The research authors do give caution to smokers and people with high lung cancer risk to closely monitor NAC consumption.

This sounds like a great advice by the researchers, in light of the current observations.
Click to comment on article below:

Sign Up To Our Mailing list:

2 comments
Mario Fritz - February 19, 2014

NAC = N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine. Cysteine is an amino acid which also works as an antioxidant

Reply
Lee - February 19, 2014

Rebuttal to Clark Maxfield – I once had a great English professor that emphasized the importance of any language is to convey information accurately from one person to an other. It is of lesser importance should the language be grammatically correct, so long as it’s content is accurate.

I believe Dr Valenzuela did an accurate transmission. I do agree the grammer could be adjusted a little. It is still a good article full of food for thought.

Thank you Dr Valenzuela

Reply
Click here to add a comment

Leave a comment: