Blog Post created by Thomas3.20.2010 on Jan 30, 2014

If you’re like me, I used to take lots of Vitamin supplements to “make up” for abusing my body by smoking! I did so especially out of an anxiety about cotracting Cancer! Come to find out that I might have done more harm than good!

The Harvard School of Public Health reports that taking antioxident supplements while smoking can actually feed precancerous and cancerous cells! Antioxidants such as beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, selenium, vitamins A, C, and E are meant to protect the body from disease by preventing cell damage caused by molecules known as free radicals. These radicals can damage almost anything inside the cell including DNA, which can lead to cancer. However, high-dose supplements of antioxidants may be linked to health risks, and could interact with some medicines. The protection they initially intend to provide can backfire in those who already have cancerous or precancerous cells. The antioxidants harm rather than help the cancer patients by accelerating the progression of the disease.

Typically, when the body detects cellular DNA damage that can lead to cancer, it releases a tumor-suppressing protein — p53. The antioxidants not only destroy free radicals, but also suppress the release of p53. By reducing the DNA damage, the antioxidant actually helps the cancer cells escape detection.

the antioxidant supplement — acetylcysteine, a.k.a. N.A.C.  — is commonly used to improve breathing in patients with COPD. Most patients with COPD are current of former smokers. They stress people carrying small undiagnosed tumors in their lungs should avoid taking extra antioxidants. If you have lung cancer, or if you have an increased risk of developing lung cancer, then taking extra antioxidants may be harmful and it could speed up the growth of a tumor.

Researchers also found a higher incident of lung cancer among men who received beta-carotene compared to those who did not. These men were smokers who took daily supplements of this antioxidant for five to eight years that were found more likely to die from lung cancer or heart disease.

Some of the effects of antioxidants backfire. The human body’s ability to create its own antioxidants and adding antioxidant supplements could defeat the body’s ability to fight cancer and disease. 

Whether antioxidants have a good or bad effect on cancer risk in healthy individuals remains to be known. Scientific data has encouraged and also err on the side of caution when it comes to antioxidant supplements. The belief that antioxidants may “cure” or “prevent” cancer and other diseases is being put into question in a lot of studies.