Recent research has introduced a surprising twist into our understanding of vitamin and mineral supplements, suggesting that they may inadvertently fuel tumor growth. Common antioxidants like vitamins A, C, selenium, and zinc, when taken as supplements, have been linked to the stimulation of blood vessel growth within cancerous tissues.
This revelation challenges the conventional belief that antioxidants provide protection against cancer, shedding light on an unexpected aspect of their impact. The study, conducted by Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet and published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, reveals that antioxidants, including Vitamin C, play a role in promoting the formation of new blood vessels within lung cancer tumors.
Researchers speculate that this effect could extend to various cancer types and their metastatic spread. Professor Martin Bergö, the study’s lead researcher and a professor at the Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, expressed his surprise at these findings.
Antioxidants are known for their ability to neutralize harmful free oxygen radicals in the body, which makes them a common inclusion in dietary supplements. However, the study underscores the risks associated with excessive antioxidant supplementation.
Professor Bergö cautioned, “There’s no need to fear antioxidants in normal food, but most people don’t need additional amounts of them. In fact, it can be harmful for cancer patients and people with an elevated cancer risk.”
The research revealed that antioxidants initially decrease the levels of free oxygen radicals. However, introducing extra amounts triggers a decrease in free radicals, activating a protein called BACH1. This protein, in turn, initiates the formation of new blood vessels, a process known as angiogenesis.
Ting Wang, a doctoral student in Professor Bergö’s group, highlighted the implications, noting that the study paves the way for more effective approaches to preventing angiogenesis in tumors. For example, patients with tumors exhibiting high levels of BACH1 might benefit more from anti-angiogenesis therapy than those with low BACH1 levels.
The study, conducted using lung, breast, and kidney tumors, demonstrated that the activation of BACH1, whether through ingested antioxidants or overexpression of the BACH1 gene, led to an increased production of new blood vessels. Notably, these newly formed vessels exhibited high sensitivity to angiogenesis inhibitors.
Looking ahead, Ms. Wang stated that the next steps involve a detailed examination of how oxygen levels and free radicals regulate the BACH1 protein. Further studies will also aim to determine the clinical relevance of these findings and expand into other cancer forms, such as breast, kidney, and skin cancer.
This research challenges our understanding of antioxidants and their potential impact on cancer growth. While antioxidants remain an essential component of a healthy diet, the study emphasizes the importance of moderation and the potential risks associated with excessive antioxidant supplementation, especially for individuals with a history of cancer or an elevated cancer risk.
Source: Yahoo News