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Antioxidants could lead to faster growth of cancer cells, study finds

A study published in the journal Nature has revealed that antioxidants can actually speed up cancer. Antioxidants have been promoted by health professionals for its ability to fight free radicals, protecting cells and DNA from electron stealing molecules.antioxidants-cancer-cell-growth

Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center found that have a boosting effect in the growth of cancer cells. However, it is important to note that antioxidants don’t cause cancer, but fuels the growth of existing cancer cells. Researcher Sean Morrison and his team conducted experiments on mice transplanted with melanoma (skin cancer cells) from human patients.


One group of mice was given doses of N-acetylcysteine (NAC), a common antioxidant, and  the other group was given nothing. NAC is used in nutritional and bodybuilding supplements, and is also used for treatment of HIV/AIDS patients and in some children with certain genetic disorders. Mice that were given NAC suffered from higher levels of cancer in the blood, more tumors and they even grew large. Morrison said that 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.

When antioxidant supplements are given, they may give life to cancerous cells that are on the verge of dying. However, some studies prove that people who include a range of fruits and vegetable have lower cancer rates. it is not yet proven that antioxidants can prevent cancer before it starts.

Antioxidants prevent damage to cells, especially DNA, and this lowers a chance of a cell going out of control, which happens when someone suffers from cancer. Experts predict that about 1.65 million people will be diagnosed with cancer this year, and approximately 600,000 will die as the result of the disease.

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About Anirudh Madhav

A movie buff, a bookworm, and a compulsive doodler. All posts by Anirudh

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