News & AnalysisBiomedical Reserach

Antioxidants Could Spur Tumors by Acting on Cancer Gene

Science  31 Jan 2014:
Vol. 343, Issue 6170, pp. 477
DOI: 10.1126/science.343.6170.477

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Summary

Many people take vitamins such as A, E, and C thinking that their antioxidant properties will ward off cancer. But some clinical trials have suggested that such antioxidants, which sop up DNA-damaging molecules called free radicals, have the opposite effect and raise cancer risk in certain people. Now, in a provocative study that raises unsettling questions about the widespread use of vitamin supplements, Swedish researchers have showed that relatively low doses of antioxidants spur the growth of early lung tumors in cancer-prone mice, perhaps by hindering a well-known tumor suppressor gene.