News / Health

Antioxidants Fuel Lung Cancer in Mice

TEXT SIZE - +
Jessica Berman
— Millions of people take vitamins, minerals and herbal pills every day, hoping to stay healthy, and avoid disease. Much of that money is spent on antioxidants, like vitamins C and E, which is commonly believed to prevent or delay some types of cell damage, such as cancer. But new research suggests that taking high levels of the supplements may actually be increasing the risk by knocking out the body's natural defenses against cancer. 

Antioxidants are chemicals naturally produced by the body, or provided by fruits and vegetables, that neutralize what are known as free radicals, harmful molecules that accumulate inside cells and damage DNA.  Without antioxidants, cells turn cancerous.

But despite dozens of studies, there’s never been any evidence that taking extra antioxidants, in the form of pills, prevents cancer, said Martin Bergo, a professor of molecular medicine at the University of Gothenburg.  In fact, in an interview via Skype, he said excessive doses of the supplements could be harmful.

“But this thing is deeply rooted in the belief of people because [of] these free radicals that form inside the cells,” he said.

Bergo said dozens of studies have shown little or no benefit from taking antioxidants.  He said other trials had to be halted because researchers observed an increased cancer risk.

An article in the journal Science Translational Medicine described how two research teams, one led by Bergo and another overseen by cancer researcher Par Lindahl, discovered by accident that high doses of two antioxidants - vitamin E and NAC (N-acetyl-cysteine) - fueled lung cancer in mice.

Lindahl, also of the University of Gothenburg, said researchers were looking at how a particular protein that binds to DNA might contribute to lung cancer.

In a Skype interview, Lindahl said all of the mice in the study had small lung tumors. To create a control group, the researchers gave some of the rodents antioxidants, expecting that to limit their tumor growth.

“And it turns out that mice that were treated with extra antioxidants, they developed larger tumors compared to untreated mice.  The tumors looked more aggressive, and the mice died twice as fast as the untreated mice," said Lindahl.

Researchers found high antioxidant levels reduced the activity of P-53, a protein that normally limits cell damage and prevents cancer. While more studies are needed before any recommendations for humans can be made, the researchers suggest that people with small, undiagnosed lung tumors could potentially fuel cancer by taking antioxidant supplements. 

A spokesman for the American Cancer Society called the study’s results “intriguing” but agreed it is too early to draw any conclusions.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid