Antioxidants Might Boost Spread of Cancer: StudyRaymond Billings (Author) Published Date : Oct 17, 2015 17:52 IST
Since antioxidants leaped from biochemistry labs into the world s consciousness beginning in the 1990s, people have come to believe more is better as it refers to consuming substances found in green tea, leafy veggies or acai berries. A new provocative study published this week raised a number of important questions regarding that assumption.
Thousands of foods have antioxidants, which include betacarotene, vitamins such as C and E, and are thought to be protectors of cells from being damaged as they act as defenders against free radicals, which are produced by the body in metabolism or that can enter via the environment.
That is good for the normal cells. However, what University of Texas Southwestern researchers found was that antioxidants are able to work on cells that are cancerous as well, but they turbo-charge the process in which they grow as well as spread.
Sean Morrison one of the researchers conducted experiments with his colleagues on mice that had skin cancer cells transplanted from human patients.
One of the groups in the study was not given anything. The other group was given N-acetylcysteine or NAC, which is an antioxidant that is common and used in bodybuilding and nutritional supplements. It has also been used for treating patients that have HIV or AIDS and in children with specific genetic disorders.
The findings were scary. Members of the second group had much higher cancer cell levels in their blood, developed more tumors of which the tumors were widespread and larger than in the other group.
During an interview, Morrison said researchers are beginning to learn there can be cancerous cells, which appear to benefit more from the antioxidants that normal cells do.
Morrison said it had to do with oxidative stress.
Scientists have been aware for some time that cancer metastasis, especially as it pertains to spreading a far distance to another area of the body, is inefficient and cells die as it spreads.
That is likely caused by oxidative stress, which is the body s inability to counteract harmful effects that free radicals produce. The new paper hypothesizes that when antioxidant supplements are introduced they could give new life to the cancerous cells that are near dying.
Antioxidants Might Boost Spread of Cancer: Study