Nov 27, 2023
Do Antioxidants prevent cancer?
xidation is a natural part of living and the aging process which can damage the cells of your body and can also lead to the development of diseases including cancer. Antioxidants are those substances found in fruits, vegetables, beans, cereals, and other food sources which can help prevent oxidation. They protect your body from the damaging effects of free radicals which attack the healthy cells of your body, alters the genetic material, and facilitates the growth of tumors.
Antioxidants not only play a crucial role in finding and repairing damaged cells in your body but also helps boost your immune system. It is believed that consuming antioxidant-rich foods can help prevent cancer as well as reverse the condition for those who are yet to be diagnosed. Examples of antioxidants that come from outside the body include Vitamins- A, C, E, beta-carotene, lycopene, folic acid, selenium, lutein, lycopene, etc. and some of them play a role in preventing several diseases including cancer.
Vitamin C a.k.a. Ascorbic acid. This antioxidant found in oranges, green peppers, strawberries, papaya, broccoli, etc can protect against the cancers of the oral cavity, esophagus, lungs, breast, stomach, rectum, cervix and the pancreas. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for this antioxidant is 75 mg for women and 90 mg per day for men. And it is recommended that individuals who smoke should consume at least 100 mg of vitamin C on a daily basis.
Vitamin A a.k.a. Retinol. The antioxidant found abundantly in carrots, milk, egg yolks, liver, sweet potatoes, and mozzarella cheese plays a vital role in a wide range of biological processes and is fundamental for vision, skin and bone growth, etc. it also plays a vital role in reducing the risk of cancers of the breast, ovaries, and nasopharyngeal cancer.
Vitamin E (Tocopherol) This vitamin is very popular for its antioxidant properties. It is found naturally in certain foods including almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, vegetable oils such as soybean oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, wheat germ oil, and green leafy vegetables. Researchers have demonstrated that vitamin E can prevent cancer from certain individuals. Among those with genetic disorder Cowden Syndrome, this antioxidant can decelerate or stop the cell damage that could lead to cancer, according to Cleveland Clinic Beta-carotene.
This antioxidant present in foods including carrots, sweet potatoes, dark leafy vegetables, squash, apricots, red and yellow peppers is essential for normal growth and development, immune responses, healthy skin, vision and it also helps protect your body from the damages caused by free radicals including chronic illnesses. But certain studies have reported that beta-carotene is associated with a higher risk of lung cancer in male smokers and mskcc.org aggressive prostate cancer Lycopene It is an antioxidant naturally present in fruits and vegetables including tomatoes, watermelon, grapefruit, pink guava, papaya, rosehip, and autumn olive.
An aclinical trial has demonstrated that lycopene supplements reduce the spread of localized prostate cancer, but there isn’t any proof that it can treat cancer. Diets rich in this antioxidant are generally linked to a lower risk of certain types of cancers particularly lung, stomach, and hormone-positive breast cancer. Folic Acid (Vitamin B9)The antioxidant property of this B vitamin has a protective effect on the pathogenesis of the cardiovascular, neurological, and hematological diseases as well as cancer. Folic acid can help prevent the development of certain cancers including colorectal cancer and precancerous polyps by 40 to 60 percent.
Lutein This antioxidant is found in abundance in natural foods such as green leafy vegetables, kale, spinach, and egg yolks. Lutein neutralizes free radicals linked to oxidative stress and retinal damage. They play a vital role in preventing cataracts. Lutein plays a vital role in reducing the risk of certain cancers, especially that of the colon. This antioxidant plays a vital role in your immune health and helps lower oxidative stress in your body, and reduces inflammation. Studies have demonstrated that individuals who took high levels of dietary selenium could, While some studies have demonstrated that antioxidants might decelerate or possibly even prevent the development of cancer.
However, several other studies have fetched different conclusions about the effect of antioxidants on cancer.“Many observational studies, including case-control studies and cohort studies, have been conducted to investigate whether the use of dietary antioxidant supplements is associated with reduced risks of cancer in humans. Overall, these studies have yielded mixed results. Because observational studies cannot adequately control for biases that might influence study outcomes, the results of any individual observational study must be viewed with caution,” said the National Cancer Institute
Antioxidants such as beta-carotene were found to have different effects on patients. A 1993 study reported that the antioxidant significantly reduced the incidence of gastric cancer and cancer overall when taken alongside vitamin E and selenium. But another study conducted in the following year revealed that beta-carotene increased the risk of lung cancer in patients. According to a 1994 study, beta-Carotene and vitamin A caused a possible increase in lung cancer. And a 1999 study reported that beta-carotene supplementation fetched neither harmful nor beneficial effects.
Can people already diagnosed with cancer take antioxidant supplements? Several randomized controlled trials have been conducted to investigate whether consuming antioxidant supplements during cancer treatment could alter the effectiveness or reduce its toxicities. Although they yielded mixed results, a few of them indicated that cancer patients who consumed antioxidant supplements during cancer therapy had worse outcomes, particularly, if they happen to be smokers.
A few preclinical studies indicated that antioxidants promoted tumor growth and metastasis in tumor-bearing mice and increased the ability to circulate the tumor cells to metastasize. And until more information pertaining to the effects of antioxidants on cancer patients, these supplements should be consumed with caution. One study demonstrated that the use of supplemental antioxidants during radiation therapy and chemotherapy shouldn’t be encouraged because of tumor protection and reduced survival. The Bottom line Dietary supplementation is intended to be used when one isn’t receiving certain nutrients that they are supposed to be. But just like drugs, they are prone to unintended adverse effects. Therefore, antioxidant supplements shouldn’t be consumed without recommendations.