There were two articles that appeared in medical literature this month that were of a related and significant nature and I felt they warranted a blog post.
In a study out of Spain, researchers indicated that mitochondria (the power plants of our cells) are both a major source of oxidants as well as a target for the damaging effect of these oxidant molecules.
Mitochondrial oxidative damage appears to be a cause rather than a consequence of cellular aging. I had previously indicated in a recent blog post that years ago the primary theory for cellular aging was known as apoptosis. In apoptosis it is felt that every cell has a fixed number of cell divisions following which over time the cell ceases to function.
The study out of Spain along with many others counter this argument indicating that mitochondrial function is impaired primarily because of the pro-oxidants that are produced by the mitochondria. The researchers further go on to indicate that this oxidative damage contributes to DNA mutations which in turn leads to further malfunction of the cell.
In a related article published this month in the journal Mutagenesis, researchers from Norway investigated the effects of antioxidant supplementation on chromosomal damage. A three-month antioxidant supplementation trial was conducted on 28 patients who had suffered a heart attack and 57 healthy individuals. The treated group was given a daily dose of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene and selenium. White cells were collected at the beginning and end of the supplementation period and were subsequently stimulated to look for evidence of chromosomal damage.
The individuals who received supplementation with antioxidants had a statistically significant decrease in the percentage of cells with chromosomal damage. Prior to the treatment, chromosomal damage could be induced in 63% of the cells and after treatment, only 27%. The largest positive effect with supplementation was seen in smokers. Those treated with the supplements only had 12% abnormal cells compared to 81% of individuals receiving placebo. The researchers concluded that the results support the hypothesis that antioxidants decrease genetic damage.
There have been countless studies in medical literature over the last few decades indicating that antioxidants and certain nutrients can have a beneficial effect regarding cancer. I had previously cited a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine from 1998 indicating that in a large group of women taking supplemental folic acid for more than 15 years, the incidence of colon cancer was decreased by about 75%.
In a previous blog post I also commented on two separate studies on selenium showing benefit for reducing incidence of cancer by up to 65%. I am still bothered by the fact that recently some individuals in the medical community have made statements that vitamins and supplemental nutrients have not been proven to show benefit for cancer risk reduction. I would ask these physicians and academicians what safe and effective drugs they have available that could clearly reduce the risk of cancer. The answer is that there are none.
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