Volume 2 Issue 5

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Abby's Magazine - September / October 2014 | Page 37 In the 1960s, vitamins were widely thought to be only good for the prevention of vitamin deficiency diseases. In the 1970s, Linus Pauling, PhD, advanced the view that vitamin C could help prevent and treat colds and flu. Today, numerous studies have confirmed that antioxidant vitamins like C and E and the nutrients known as carotenoids may reduce your risk of cancer. Free Radical Damage In 1957, Dennis Harman, a scientist, introduced the then- revolutionary concept of free radicals and their association with aging and degenerative disease. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that can bind to and destroy body components. Technically, the destructive power of the free radical arises from the absence of an electron. That lack makes them unstable, causing them to react with other substances, wreaking havoc on enzymes and other proteins within cells, and damaging the fragile lipid (fat) membranes that surround cells and the nuclear membrane, which holds the DNA. DNA directs the division of cells. When DNA malfunctions, cells may divide uncontrollably. The result: cancer. Generated as a part of normal metabolism as well as from stress, smoking, alcohol, exposure to pollution and radiation, this characteristic of free radicals to damage the DNA of normal healthy cells is thought to form tumors. "If it occurs often enough and in the right places it can create cells that become precancerous and then cancerous as the process goes on," Dan Labriola, ND, Director of Northwest Natural Health Specialty Care Clinic in Seattle, told Energy Times. The clinic specializes in the prevention and treatment of cancer, working closely with the medical community to allow patients who are getting conventional therapies to also utilize natural medicine. "Direct oxidative damage to DNA causes mutations which cause cancer," says David Williams, a professor in the Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. He also serves as chief of the cancer-chemo protection program there. "Cancer can be looked at in stages of what they call initiation, usually the initial genetic damage caused by a carcinogen to the DNA, promotion and progression, usually the third stage when you form a tumor and it metastasizes," says Williams. "Antioxidants appear to be especially effective at blocking promotion. They can also help in the earlier stages as well." Antioxidants Vs. Cancer Antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, beta-carotene (one of the carotenoids) and the mineral selenium all play an important role in our system of defenses. "They quench free radicals and reduce exposure to normal cells," says Dr. Labriola. "They also aid in the repair process for cells that have been damaged by free radicals and other sources." Antioxidants readily mop up many reactive oxygen and nitrogen compounds such as superoxide and hydroperoxyl radicals, nitrogen dioxide, and hypochlorous acid. These antioxidants defuse free radicals' destructive power by being oxidized. That action spares damage to cellular structures. Nutrients, working together as a team, make antioxidants more effective. Vitamin C, an essential micronutrient required for normal metabolic functioning of the body, is the first line of antioxidant protection. Its primary partners are natural vitamin E and the carotenes, fat- soluble antioxidants. "Vitamin C tends to fight free radicals in the cytosol (liquid portion) of the cell," says Williams. "Vitamin E is very lipid soluble so it tends to fight the radicals in the membrane. They complement each other. In fact, vitamin C can replenish vitamin E after its been oxidized so they have a synergistic effect." Beta-carotene and vitamin E together have a greater free radical-trapping effect than individually (Arch Biochem Biophys, 297(1):184-187, Micro Nutrients, Macro Protection

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