What Do Antioxidants Do To Cancer Cells?
Cancer Cells. Let’s talk about Antioxidants and how they relate to cancer. You know that I love a diet full of antioxidants. The more variety of antioxidants, the better. I am a big believer that food is medicine and what you put in your mouth is one step closer to helping you or harming you. Antioxidants are helpers.
What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants inhibit the oxidation process in the body. They are substances that act as protective agents. They protect our bodies from free radicals, which can have damaging effects on our tissues and DNA. Free radicals also known as by-products of the body’s chemical processes. The problem with free radicals is that they attack healthy cells. When this happens it changes their DNA, and this can allow things like tumors to grow, or cancer to ensue.
How can antioxidants help kill cancer cells?
The first study to get people excited about antioxidants’s effect on cancer was done in 1980. StopCancerFund.Org covers it perfectly, stating: “A landmark study from the late 1980s was among the first to look at the effect of antioxidants on cancer risk. The study involved almost 30,000 Chinese men and women at high risk for cancer who took daily vitamin and mineral supplements for 5 years. Patients were assigned to receive one of the following combinations of supplements: (a) retinol and zinc, (b) riboflavin and niacin, (c) vitamin C and molybdenum, or (d) beta carotene, vitamin E and selenium. Men and women taking the antioxidant combination of beta carotene, vitamin E and selenium had significantly lower death rates and a reduced risk for cancer after 1-2 years of taking the supplements.” (Official study here)
A diet full of antioxidants
Fruits and Vegetables have essential nutrients that you cannot get from other foods. The vitamins and minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants in plants help keep your cells healthy and your body in balance so that your immune system can function at its best. There is much research that suggests that following a plant-based diet can boost your immunity, lower inflammation, help you fight free radicals and reduce cancer risk.
Another study shows that fruits, vegetables, plant-derived beverages such as green tea, and cacao-based products are the main dietary sources of flavonoids. Flavonoids have been shown to possess a wide variety of anticancer effects: they modulate reactive oxygen species (ROS)-scavenging enzyme activities, participate in arresting the cell cycle, induce apoptosis, autophagy, and suppress cancer cell proliferation and invasiveness.
The Flavones Antioxidant
A developing field called nutriepigenomics examines the connection between diet and chemical marks that can be attached to or removed from our DNA, thereby turning genes on or off. Many new studies suggest that certain foods or supplements may be able to adjust the expression of our genes, potentially influencing our health, for better or worse. Eating foods that contain flavones, might be able to epigenetically reduce cancer risk. Superfoods, rich in flavones such as parsley, celery, spinach, maca, kiwi, camu camu, and the list goes on, are considered to be a powerful arsenal for any type of cancer prevention diet.
The Glutathione Antioxidant
Glutathione is arguably one of the most beneficial antioxidants in our bodies. It is made of three types of amino acids. Something super unique about antioxidants is that it is produced in the liver, this is not so for most antioxidants!
Supplementing with liposomal glutathione can be highly beneficial for those battling cancer or those hoping to prevent it.
Studies have been very promising about glutathione slowing the progression of cancer.
This pub med study says this about the antioxidant: “With respect to cancer, glutathione metabolism is able to play both protective and pathogenic roles. It is crucial in the removal and detoxification of carcinogens, and alterations in this pathway, can have a profound effect on cell survival.”
The Co-Q10 Antioxidant
Co-Q10 is a fat-soluble antioxidant. It’s key role lies in cellular energy and reducing oxidative damage. Both of these things are very important when it comes to cance as oxidative stress can play a role in causing cancer and cellular energy is needed to heal!
What’s interesting to note is that many cancer patients are shown to have low levels of Co-Q10 in their systems. People are more at risk of certain cancers when they are low on Co-Q10. (Source)
For those in remission, it would be wise to eat foods high in Co-Q10 or supplement with the antioxidant as studies have found that loading up on Co-Q10 can help with the recurrence of cancer.
The Vitamin E Antioxidant
One of the most important things to do to prevent cancer and help treat cancer is to protect your healthy cells and to have the ability to go over damaged cells. Cancer can be a build-up of free radicals and it is important to keep these at bay!
Vitamin E comes into the picture when we are talking about powerful antioxidants that can help prevent free radical damage and even slow down the aging of our cells. (Source)
In fact, Vitamin E has been shown to be super beneficial with different types of cancer. It can decrease the risk of cancers including prostate, lung, and colon cancers. (Source)
The opposite is true that Vitamin E deficiencies can put you at risk for these cancers. (Source)
The Vitamin C Antioxidant
Vitamin C is found in a bunch of different foods. It’s often seen in skincare and sold as supplements. Scientifically, Vitamin C is known as ascorbic acid and ascorbate. Vitamin C is a nutrient, an essential nutrient in fact, that plays a part in repairing tissue. Because it helps the immune system so much, it definitely has a role in helping to kill cancer cells. (Source)
Some say Vitamin C = the ultimate antioxidant when it comes to cancer!
Vitamin C helps white blood cells by protecting them from free radicals.
Many cancer patients see a lot of relief and progress whe undergoing Vitamin C IV therapy. We have an entire article on the role of Vitamin C- be sure to check it out.
The bottom line
Whether preventing or treating, it is important to be mindful of beneficial antioxidants and how helpful they can be for our body! Many times, it all starts with diet.
If you need a place to start, my shop site is full of antioxidant rich recipes. The very ones I eat myself! Food is medicine. Antioxidants are powerful.