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A fact sheet about antioxidants, substances that may protect cells from the damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals.
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Vitamins and Supplements -- The Benefits of "Food First" - Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Many oncologists tell patients not to take antioxidant supplements during treatment. More than women diagnosed with non-invasive and invasive breast cancer in and were asked about their use of four antioxidant supplements during adjuvant treatment.

Antioxidant Supplements Don't Fight Cancer, Research Suggests | Live Science

Adjuvant treatments are given after surgery to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back. The researchers considered a higher-than-recommended dose to be more of the antioxidant than in a Centrum multivitamin.

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If you're being treated for breast cancer, you may be thinking about taking or are already taking supplements such as antioxidants to do all that you can to fight the cancer and keep it from coming back. It might be fine to do this, but it's very important to tell your doctor about ALL the supplements and medicines you take, including over-the-counter medicines and vitamins. Make sure you tell your doctor the exact dose of each supplement, vitamin, or medicine you take or are thinking about taking.

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Your doctor may have concerns about how these medicines and supplements may interact with your treatments or how they may affect your health. Just because you can buy a medicine, vitamin, or supplement without a prescription doesn't mean it's safe for you to take.

Although the treated mice did not develop more skin tumors than similar mice that had not been fed the antioxidants, they developed twice as many tumors in their lymph nodes, a hallmark of the spread of cancer—a process called metastasis. Antioxidants may bolster protection of these dangerous cells. The treated mice also had a higher ratio of glutathione to glutathione disulfide, the molecule that glutathione becomes after it neutralizes free radicals.

These findings suggest that when the body is given extra antioxidants, its tumor cells get to keep more of the antioxidants that they already make themselves. The cells can store the surplus, improving their ability to survive damage.

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This idea is supported by work that shows some genes that drive cancer growth turn on other genes that make intrinsic antioxidants. The substances may help cancer cells in other ways, too. Previous research has suggested that glutathione affects the activity of a protein called RhoA, which helps cells move to different parts of the body.

He and his colleagues confirmed that the extra glutathione in the treated mice caused levels of RhoA to increase in their metastatic tumors. In their lung cancer study they also found that antioxidant supplements caused lung tumor cells to turn off the activity of a well-known cancer-suppressing gene called p53 ; its inactivation is believed to drive metastasis. These molecular investigations shed light on the large human trials that have implicated antioxidants in cancer.


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It is possible that the supplements did not triggercancer but rather accelerated the progression of existing undiagnosed cancers, making later discovery of the disease likely. The medical advice for people at this point is tentative. And a study of 35, men found that large doses of vitamin E increased the risk of prostate cancer by 17 percent. That said, a handful of studies have found that antioxidants inhibit melanoma and other malignant cells growing in lab dishes.

Maybe different antioxidants beta-carotene; vitamins A, C, E; others act differently and are less harmful, or even beneficial. You might think that while antioxidants are a bad idea for cancer patients, they should help healthy people by preventing DNA damage that can trigger malignancies in the first place. Unfortunately, cancer turns out to be more prevalent than once thought: Many of us have undiagnosed micromalignancies that the immune system and other defenses keep in check.

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29 Foods That May Help Prevent Cancer

Is organic apple cidar vinegar considered an antioxidant and if so does it promote the growth of cancer cells? By Sharon Begley.

Gut Check is a periodic look at health claims made by studies and by newsmakers. We ask: Should we believe this? Leave a Comment Cancel reply Name Please enter your name. Email Address Please enter a valid email address. Comment Please enter a comment.