Antioxidants have become so popular and it's one of the new buzzwords of today. You see it on the labels of foods that appear in the grocery store, colorful fruits and vegetables are packed with them, even cosmetics - skin care, hair care are now on the bandwagon singing its praises. Hallelujah!

In an article From the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) the grant review panelist; Dr. A. N. Tony Kong talks about his most recent findings. He wanted to know how antioxidants in plant foods affect genes that turn the cancer process on and off? That is what Dr. Kong has investigated in a number of studies.

He said, "It's a balancing act," "A little inflammation in a healthy immune reaction is a good thing, but too much is harmful. Too much oxidative stress and too few antioxidant vitamins like C, D and E, and not consuming enough phytochemicals - like sulforaphane in broccoli, EGCG in green tea and dozens more in all kinds of plant foods - leads to ill health."

How does this happen? It has to do with the way our immune systems respond to infections by fighting the virus or bacteria that is causing them. The site that is inflamed is where the battle is fought. The longer the inflammation persists, the likelihood of increased risk for certain cancers. Hepatitis increases the risk of liver cancer. H. pylori bacteria responsible for stomach ulcers, increases the risk for stomach cancer. Inflammatory bowel disease increases the risk for colon cancer.

Versatility of Antioxidants

Apparently antioxidants have dual roles. They both coordinate and also give protection that is a two-step action plan. Here is how Dr Kong described the process:
1) antioxidants directly mop up free radical molecules; and

2) antioxidants turn on signals that tell tumor-suppressing genes to become active.

Again, Dr. Kong stated. "Often where oxidative stress occurs, inflammation also occurs. Free radicals may also activate inflammation cascades. Antioxidants may not only reduce cell oxidative stress - they may also activate cellular defense systems by putting protective enzymes to work. Together they get rid of free radicals and also block the cell signaling that tells tumor cells to grow."

The Theory Tested

How was the theory tested? In Dr. Kong's lab, a protein called "Nrf2"was omitted from one group of mice. The second group had the Nrf2 protein. They compared both groups feeding them sulforaphane, the phytochemical found in broccoli and cabbage. Their findings showed that sulforaphane plays an important role in enabling Nrf2 to inform antioxidants proteins to fight cytokines and other kinds of inflammatory proteins.

This goes to show that eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans are vital to our well-being. Sulforaphane is just one of hundreds of antioxidant phytochemicals that are plant based and can protect us from inflammation and oxidative stress.

It is believed that phytochemical antioxidants in our diets work well to protect our cells from low-level inflammation and oxidative stress that we have every day. When there is damage or injury to cells that could create a cancer-driving mutation, antioxidants might be used to reactivate genes that protect against cancer. Dr. Kong is moving along looking into pathways of gene activity that are located just outside of the DNA-coding region.

He said that phytochemicals are effective at the chromosome level. In his research with lab rats with prostate cancer, he noted as the tumors grow it's possible that the tumors escape protective gene signals. Concurrently, the harmful gene signals that cause tumors to grow are activated. With those kind of processes, Dr. Kong and his partners are trying to deactivate them using antioxidant vitamins and phytochemicals.


There are strong bodies of evidence showing us how we can be proactive in taking care of our health. One of the ways is simply eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans that are plant based. These natural bounties have the nutrients and the phytochemicals that are essential to good health and wellness in preventing at risk diseases. Having good health is an asset. Everything that we do is dependent on it. Do what you can to live a joyful healthy life. Include some antioxidants type foods daily to support protection. Choose to eat colorful vegetables, fruits and the foods mentioned to ensure that you are fitting antioxidants to support body cells protection. You'll reap big rewards to become "healthy, wealthy and wise."

Author's Bio: 

I believe that knowledge can be empowering and the more we understand our bodies and the mechanisms that cause illness, the more committed we become to getting better. Through my Hope Nutritional Services, I am devoted to educating you about your body, how it works and how to nourish, heal and nurture it.

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