Study suggests antioxidant supplements harmful for cancer patients

The Washington Post reports on a mouse study published in Science Translational Medicine, which “suggests that high doses” of antioxidant supplements “may do more harm than good in patients with certain types of cancer.”

The findings have been dubbed “the dark side of antioxidants,” and “the new research complements a groundbreaking 1994 National Cancer Institute study that showed an increase in incidence of lung cancer among smokers who took supplements of the antioxidant called beta-carotene.”

The AP reports that in the study, “Swedish scientists gave antioxidants to mice that had early-stage lung cancer, and watched the tumors multiply and become aggressive enough that the animals died twice as fast as untreated mice.” They explained that the antioxidants “apparently blocked one of the body’s key cancer-fighting mechanisms.”

NBC News reports that “what’s odd is the supplements also did what they were supposed to do, which is to reduce DNA damage.”

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