Jan 18, 2019 | Updated: 03:16 PM EST

Antioxidants On Cancer Treatment

Oct 19, 2015 11:35 PM EDT


Antioxidants have always been known as good for the health until this research published in the journal Nature this week discovered that these antioxidants, in a study with mice, might in fact increase cancer cell spread and growth.

By transferring skin cancer cells of human to mice, researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Center studied the use of antioxidants in the spreading activities of cancer cells. The mice were divided into two groups: one was administered with antioxidants used in HIV/AIDS patients N-acetylcysteine (NAC) and also utilized as supplements for nutrition and body building, whereas the other group was not administered with anything.

The tests gave a startling result as it revealed that the first group's (receiving antioxidants) tumour cells have increased in reproduction, were larger, and were more outspread compared with the other group.

"What we're starting to learn is that there can be bad cells from cancer that appear to benefit more from antioxidants than normal cells," Dr. Sean Morrison said from the Mary McDermott Cook Chair in the Pediatric Genetics. 

Scientists believed that this could be because of the body's failure to counterbalance the negative effects of free radicals, otherwise known as oxidative stress. Thus, when these antioxidants are administered, they regenerate dying cancerous cells instead.

Furthermore, it is admitted that this is not the pioneer study with regard to the effects of antioxidants in cancer cells; however, this can add up to the mixed results found in early studies, thereby giving users some warning since these cells that affect mice are the same cells that target normal human cells.

Aside from melanoma, other studies, for example, the Vanderbilt University's study in 2012 where they revealed the effects of antioxidants in prostate cancer cells by propagating cancerous lesions, have been carried out. In fact, associating antioxidants with other diseases like cardiovascular sickness and memory loss have been done.

Despite this recent discovery, Morrison said that further research is needed, and cancer patients are still to take these supplements as part of their health diet plan. However, in his personal point of view and based on this study, "I would avoid supplementing my diet with large amounts of antioxidants if I had cancer."     

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