Free Radicals – set them free

June 4, 2015

Free radicals, don’t kill them, they could save your life. What, you say, we need to take antioxidants and stop free radicals. We age faster, it lets cancer grow faster and it helps stop damage to cells, or so we have all been told and we all have believed.

free radical

Researchers are now finding this is not true. Free radicals actually assist in apoptosis. When cells are damaged free radicals help in accelerating their death. So you age slower with free radicals. When this occurs early on in a mutation or damage of cells it helps prevent cancer. Free radicals caused by stress according to researchers in Milan state we need these free radicals to stimulate our immune system to fight infectious diseases.

We need antioxidants at a moderate level and balanced with free radicals. This balance allows our bodies to develop a strong resistance against damage; something a high intake of antioxidants prevents. So we are letting our bodies live sheltered lives and we are becoming weaker rather than stronger. The antioxidants are basically neutralizing the protective properties of the free radicals.

In laboratory research they have demonstrated high doses of antioxidants like N-acetyl cysteine may promote increased progression of breast cancer; lung cancer is seen to increase with high doses of beta-carotene or Vitamin A. Harvard Medical School studies published showed that high doses of antioxidant supplements may help cancer cells survive and multiply by neutralizing and shutting off free radicals thus stopping the stimulation of the body’s immune response to self-repair.

P53 or otherwise known as TP53 is a tumor-suppressing protein. It is increasingly clear that p53 can have a much broader role and can contribute to the development, life expectancy, and overall fitness of an organism. When high doses of antioxidants are used the P53 is suppressed thus allowing for increased tumor growth. Studies used with mice given human lung cancer showed antioxidants increased the tumor size and the cells became more aggressive. Human studies show tumor progress in populations with a low ROS [reactive oxygen species] are at risk to cancer as P53 is inhibited; in early stages or precancerous conditions where P53 would normally suppress tumor development, high doses of antioxidants inhibit the P53 function allowing for tumor growth.

At the Children's Research Institute, they discovered cancer cells actually benefit from antioxidants and increase the rate of metastases.  Mary McDermott Cook, chair in Pediatric Genetics at UT Southwestern Medical Center stated, " Administration of antioxidants to the mice allowed more of the metastasizing melanoma cells to survive, increasing metastatic disease burden."

Many trials have been done using antioxidants for cancer based on the widely published reports that antioxidants are good for you, many of these trials had to be stopped because the patients in the trial were dying.  Doctor Morrison, CRI director said," Some of those trials had to be stopped because the patients getting the antioxidants were dying faster. Our data suggested the reason for this: cancer cells benefit more from antioxidants than normal cells do."

What we do know is a balance of foods with antioxidants that contain the right amount our bodies need and allow a fair amount of free radicals to stimulate and keep our bodies on alert for disease and cell damage helps keep us healthy. If you have cancer then you need to watch your intake of antioxidants; let your body help you, give it a good basic diet and let it work to protect you.

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