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Another name for them is “reactive oxygen species,” or “ROS” (1,2).Antioxidants are chemicals that interact with and neutralize free radicals, thus preventing them from causing damage.These exogenous antioxidants are commonly called dietary antioxidants.Fruits, vegetables, and grains are rich sources of dietary antioxidants.Therefore, acquiring a more complete understanding of the antioxidant content of individual foods, how the various antioxidants and other substances in foods interact with one another, and factors that influence the uptake and distribution of food-derived antioxidants in the body are active areas of ongoing cancer prevention research.Several randomized controlled trials, some including only small numbers of patients, have investigated whether taking antioxidant supplements during cancer treatment alters the effectiveness or reduces the toxicity of specific therapies (28).The results of these nine trials are summarized below.Overall, these nine randomized controlled clinical trials did not provide evidence that dietary antioxidant supplements are beneficial in primary cancer prevention.
Abnormally high concentrations of free radicals in the body can be caused by exposure to ionizing radiation and other environmental toxins.
Until more is known about the effects of antioxidant supplements in cancer patients, these supplements should be used with caution.
Cancer patients should inform their doctors about their use of any dietary supplement.
When ionizing radiation hits an atom or a molecule in a cell, an electron may be lost, leading to the formation of a free radical.
The production of abnormally high levels of free radicals is the mechanism by which ionizing radiation kills cells.