News / Health

Antioxidants Fuel Lung Cancer in Mice

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 In US, Decision Expected Soon in Racially Charged Case

Missouri town, many Americans on edge over whether jurors will indict white police officer in August shooting death of unarmed black teen More

Corruption Fighters Want More From World’s Strongest Nations

Anti-corruption activists say final communique fell short of expectations and failed to fully address systemic problems More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project 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 Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Faminei
X
Daniel Schearf
November 23, 2014 4:32 PM
During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video Law Enforcement, Activists in Ferguson Agree to Keep Peace

Authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, say they have agreed with protest leaders to maintain peace when a grand jury reaches its decision on whether to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of a black teenager. Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, has been the scene of intermittent violence since the August 9 shooting intensified long-simmering antagonism between the police and the African-American community. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid