Is a diet high in oxidants really better?
For a long time we have been told to consume a lot of antioxidants to prevent cancer. Now one wonders after a study that is starting to make the rounds in medical journals may have concluded otherwise.
The article with an ominous title "Study shows antioxidant use may promote spread of cancer" from UT Southwestern Medical Center should give many pause.
DALLAS – Oct. 14, 2015 – A team of scientists at the Children’s Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI) has made a discovery that suggests cancer cells benefit more from antioxidants than normal cells, raising concerns about the use of dietary antioxidants by patients with cancer. The studies were conducted in specialized mice that had been transplanted with melanoma cells from patients. Prior studies had shown that the metastasis of human melanoma cells in these mice is predictive of their metastasis in patients.
Metastasis, the process by which cancer cells disseminate from their primary site to other parts of the body, leads to the death of most cancer patients. The CRI team found that when antioxidants were administered to the mice, the cancer spread more quickly than in mice that did not get antioxidants. The study was published online today in Nature.
The article goes on to state that people without cancer may well benefit from antioxidants that can help reduce damage from highly reactive oxidative molecules generated bu normal metabolism. The following however is concerning.
“The idea that antioxidants are good for you has been so strong that there have been clinical trials done in which cancer patients were administered antioxidants,” added Dr. Morrison, who is also a CPRIT Scholar in Cancer Research and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. “Some of those trials had to be stopped because the patients getting the antioxidants were dying faster. Our data suggest the reason for this: cancer cells benefit more from antioxidants than normal cells do.”
If one has an undiscovered cancer the implications of this study creates some confusion that likely will require more study. The data thus far is troubling.