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Transcript of “Anti-oxidants and cancer – a two edged sword”
You’ve done the surgery, the chemotherapy etc.
At this moment in time, it’s gone.
But, is it really ?
The trouble with cancer cells, like bad apples, they come back……. in a new spot. It is always somewhere they’re not supposed to be, the liver, the bone, the brain.
Here the wreak havoc.
The one that got away
The cancer cells that “GET AWAY” are the killers. Metastasis is the danger.
You’re living in fear, your cancer will re-surface.
Now, anyone living with sword of Damocles hanging over their head, is vigilant. You watch what you do and do what you can, to keep healthy.
Among the recommendations…………
Get plenty of anti-oxidants.
Now, one way to do this, is to eat fruits and vegetables. Another, is to take supplements. The list of supplements that fit the bill, is pretty long………
Vitamin C, vitamin E, N-acetylcysteine, resveratrol etc.
It’s tempting to get them from a bottle.
Not so fast…..
There is a growing body of evidence, that suggests when it comes to anti-oxidants, MORE is not always better. Adding to this work, is research from a team based in the University of Gothenburg – they found taking an anti-oxidant, actually increased the risk of skin cancer spreading.
The two edged sword..
Using animals that have been genetically modified, to make them at risk of skin cancer, when exposed to a chemical, the team set things in motion, shortly after birth.
When the mice were 3 weeks old, they were divided into two groups.
- Group 1 – received an anti-oxidant supplement in their water.
- Group 2 – just drank ordinary water.
The anti-oxidant the team used was NAC (N-acetyl cysteine), the dose was adjusted so that it was much the same, as that taken by humans who supplement, around 665 to 1330 mg/day.
Counting the tumours
The skin cancer meant the animal’s DAYS WERE NUMBERED. They became sicker and sicker. To avoid, protracted suffering, the team euthanized them, before they died.
Then they started counting….
Using a combination of microscopy, cell culture and biochemical tests, they made the disturbing finding…………
The mice taking the anti-oxidant supplement were worse off.
Taking the supplement had INCREASED tumour metastasis.
How can this be ?
A tale of two cancer tumours
Cancer begins, when “something” causes damage to the DNA in one of your cells………… the “something” that is frequently blamed, is a reactive oxygen species or ROS.
- A chemical (carcinogen) or
- A beam of UV-light
But, reactive oxygen species are not that unusual. DNA gets damaged on a regular basis……….
Cells have multiple mechanisms to fix the problem.
And, if the problem, can’t be fixed, they graciously commit suicide, in a process known as apoptosis.
Unfortunately, on some occasions, the mistake is not “corrected” and the cell, keeps going, growing and multiplying. One defective cell becomes two, two becomes four and in the blink of an eye, you have a ball of defective cells – causing trouble.
Correcting the defect
Defective cells should not persist.
So why do they ?
It’s probably a combination of too much damage and not enough fixing.
So anti-oxidants PROTECT…..
Cancer on the move
A cancer cell that makes the decision to MOVE……….
IS TAKING A RISK, A BIG RISK !
It is moving out of the nice neighbourhood, venturing out into the body…………… the body is a dangerous place. Immune cells patrol, fighting anything that looks out of place, with ROS (reactive oxygen species) tazzers.
ROS tazzers need ammo !
If you’re swallowing an anti-oxidant, your immune cells are effectively shooting blanks.
Oh dear !
Cause and consequence
Too much oxidative stress, aggravated by too little anti-oxidants, probably increased your risk of developing a tumour.
Which is one of the reasons, you should eat your vegetables !
They boost your defence mechanisms.
But, once you’ve got cancer, squelching your body’s defence system, by taking excess amounts of anti-oxidants, ends up being counter productive.
Be weary. Don’t succumb to the hype. Anti-oxidants are a two edged sword.
You do need them, but not in excess.
The concept that cancer cells are different is not new, but just how different has come as a bit of a surprise and poses a challenge for personalized medicine
Spicing up your dinner is a rather pleasant way to relieve a little of this oxidative stress, so don’t be afraid to spice it up. Spices rein in insulin.
For a cancer cell to grow big and strong, it needs to eat. So one way to weaken them, is to put them on a serious diet.
Want to enjoy better body chemistry ?
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