Antioxidants may not be an effective preventive measure against cancer

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Antioxidant supplements and foods rich in antioxidants have always been considered part of maintaining a health-conscious diet; however, this belief continues to be disputed in clinical trials. Researchers from the Lustgarten Foundation and Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University offer an explanation of why antioxidant supplements may do more harm than good in regard to reducing cancer development. Small quantities of oxidants are essential, and are manufactured within cells. Large amounts of oxidants, however, are harmful, and cells produce their own antioxidants to neutralize them. The belief then is that taking antioxidant supplements and consuming an abundance of foods high in antioxidants can increase this effect and other similarly toxic reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are generated by cancer cells to help feed their growth. However, antioxidants from pills and food sources do not act at the critical site in cells where tumor-promoting ROS are produced.

How antioxidants may not be an effective preventive measure against cancer
How antioxidants may not be an effective preventive measure against cancer
Yet clinical trials of antioxidant supplements have repeatedly dashed the hopes of consumers who take them hoping to reduce their cancer risk. Their insights are based on recent advances in the understanding of the system in our cells that establishes a natural balance between oxidizing and anti-oxidizing compounds.
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