Popular Antioxidant Seems to Spread Skin Cancer Cells in Mouse Research

“A man-made antioxidant appears to accelerate the spread of skin cancer in mice, raising questions about its safety in humans, researchers say.

“The antioxidant, N-acetylcysteine, is used to relieve mucus production in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), said study senior author Martin Bergo, a professor at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

“It also is used as a supplement by people who believe that the antioxidant can help reduce exercise-related muscle damage, burn fat and prevent fatigue, Bergo added.

“But water laced with N-acetylcysteine appeared to speed up the spread of melanoma, the potentially deadly skin cancer, in lab mice, researchers found.”


How Antioxidants Can Accelerate Cancers, and Why They Don't Protect Against Them

“Two cancer researchers have proposed why antioxidant supplements might not be working to reduce cancer development, and why they may actually do more harm than good. 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. These compounds are involved in so-called redox (reduction and oxidation) reactions essential to cellular chemistry.”


Diets Rich in Antioxidant Resveratrol Fail to Reduce Deaths, Heart Disease or Cancer

“A study of Italians who consume a diet rich in resveratrol — the compound found in red wine, dark chocolate and berries — finds they live no longer than and are just as likely to develop cardiovascular disease or cancer as those who eat or drink smaller amounts of the antioxidant.”


Diets Rich in Antioxidant Resveratrol Fail to Reduce Deaths, Heart Disease or Cancer

“A study of Italians who consume a diet rich in resveratrol — the compound found in red wine, dark chocolate and berries — finds they live no longer than and are just as likely to develop cardiovascular disease or cancer as those who eat or drink smaller amounts of the antioxidant.”


Diets Rich in Antioxidant Resveratrol Fail to Reduce Deaths, Heart Disease or Cancer

“A study of Italians who consume a diet rich in resveratrol — the compound found in red wine, dark chocolate and berries — finds they live no longer than and are just as likely to develop cardiovascular disease or cancer as those who eat or drink smaller amounts of the antioxidant.”


An Apple a Day, and Other Myths

“A trip to almost any bookstore or a cruise around the Internet might leave the impression that avoiding cancer is mostly a matter of watching what you eat. One source after another promotes the protective powers of ‘superfoods,’ rich in antioxidants and other phytochemicals, or advises readers to emulate the diets of Chinese peasants or Paleolithic cave dwellers.

“But there is a yawning divide between this nutritional folklore and science. During the last two decades the connection between the foods we eat and the cellular anarchy called cancer has been unraveling string by string.”


An Apple a Day, and Other Myths

“A trip to almost any bookstore or a cruise around the Internet might leave the impression that avoiding cancer is mostly a matter of watching what you eat. One source after another promotes the protective powers of ‘superfoods,’ rich in antioxidants and other phytochemicals, or advises readers to emulate the diets of Chinese peasants or Paleolithic cave dwellers.

“But there is a yawning divide between this nutritional folklore and science. During the last two decades the connection between the foods we eat and the cellular anarchy called cancer has been unraveling string by string.”


An Apple a Day, and Other Myths

“A trip to almost any bookstore or a cruise around the Internet might leave the impression that avoiding cancer is mostly a matter of watching what you eat. One source after another promotes the protective powers of ‘superfoods,’ rich in antioxidants and other phytochemicals, or advises readers to emulate the diets of Chinese peasants or Paleolithic cave dwellers.

“But there is a yawning divide between this nutritional folklore and science. During the last two decades the connection between the foods we eat and the cellular anarchy called cancer has been unraveling string by string.”


Antioxidants May Actually Speed Lung Cancer Growth in Some Cases

Antioxidants are chemicals that neutralize particles called free radicals that can damage DNA. Preventing such damage may help lower cancer risk for some people. However, tumors themselves can contain high levels of free radicals; by eliminating these free radicals, antioxidants may help cancer cells grow. In a laboratory, lung cancer cells treated with the antioxidants vitamin E and acetylcysteine (ACC) multiplied faster than untreated cells. Vitamin E and ACC also increased tumor growth and decreased survival time in mice with lung cancer. The so-called ‘tumor suppressor’ protein p53 can sense certain free radicals to detect cells with DNA damage and stop their growth. Antioxidants may interfere with this cancer-suppressing mechanism by reducing free radical levels. Taking antioxidants may therefore not be recommended for lung cancer patients and smokers.