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Vitamin C is often touted as a wonder - an antioxidant found in high amounts in citrus fruits, it is generally accepted as a cure-all for everything from the common cold to helping to fight off cancer.  

Vitamin C supplements dominate sales of supplements in the US, accounting for more than $200 million in sales annually.

But are high doses of antioxidants actually good for us? New research making the headlines suggest that these antioxidants may actually contribute to the spread of cancer.

The study, published online in Science Translational Medicine is titled Antioxidants Accelerate Lung Cancer Progression in Mice (link to the primary article, which is, sadly, likely firewalled).  

This study focused not on Vitamin C, but two other antioxidants, Vitamin E and N-acetylcysteine (NAC).

In this study, the researchers worked with mouse lung cancer models - genetically modified mice that can be induced to express a tumor-causing oncogene; several weeks after the researchers "turn on" this oncogene, the mice develop lung cancer.  They then added either Vitamin E or NAC to the mice's food.  

The results clearly demonstrated that addition of the antioxidants to these mice's diets led to a dramatic increase in cancer death.  The mean survival time of the antioxidant mice is reduced to roughly 9 weeks from 22 weeks for mice not fed antioxidants.  The mice additionally had more tumors, and the tumors were more aggressive.

The work goes on to provide the basis of a molecular mechanism for this observation.  The antioxidants appear to do their job in the tumor cells very well; that is they reduce the amount of oxidative damage these cells experience.  The low levels of oxidation experienced by these cells leads them to downregulate the genes the cells normally use to protect themselves from oxidative damage.  

Somehow, and this is where there is a gap in the pathway these researchers have elucidated, the reduction in oxidative damage in these cells led to the down-regulation of one of the most important tumor supressor genes, p53.  They suggest that it is likely this down-regulation of p53 that allows the tumors in these mice to progress so rapidly.  

Finally, they demonstrate that supplying human lung cancer cells grown in tissue culture with antioxidants also leads to an increase in the growth of these cells.  

Importantly, the antioxidants in this study increased the growth of tumors; the researchers can't draw conclusions on whether they might help prevent the initiation of tumors.

It is nearly impossible to extrapolate these results to human health; however, previous work in large clinical trials has suggested that Vitamin E and beta-carotene may promote tumor growth or formation in humans.  The work discussed here may provide a molecular mechanism for this effect, and certainly suggest that anti-oxidants may not always have the effect that we want.  

Some general science links discussing this work (not sure about paywalls)

Originally posted to raoul78 on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 01:57 AM PST.

Also republished by SciTech and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'll try to stop in to answer questions as I can (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  genetically modified mice? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shaharazade, SteveLCo, 4Freedom

    I don't see how studying something that has been genetically modified relates to non-modified humans. I'm not buying anything that is genetically modified, food or study.

    Only thing more infuriating than an ignorant man is one who tries to make others ignorant for his own gain. Crashing Vor

    by emmasnacker on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 03:51:07 AM PST

    •  Its a standard way of understanding biology (29+ / 0-)

      Its extremely difficult to study anything that occurs just randomly.  Mice don't normally get lung cancer at high enough rates for us to be able to really study it.

      These mice have changes in genes that are known to occur in human cancers, it allows the researchers to essentially give them a cancer very similar to what would be observed in human patients.  

    •  This study follows up on earlier studies (15+ / 0-)

      using human cells in culture. It's just another piece of the puzzle.

      One element of the mechanism is pretty well understood. In order for a tumor to grow, it needs to develop a blood supply. Any tumors that fail to develop a blood supply cannot get beyond a certain size, because the cells are starved for oxygen, and enter a process called, "programmed cell death".

      Anti-oxidants help cells (cancer and otherwise) stave off programmed cell death, by neutralizing the free radicals that trigger it. This gives the tumor extra time to grow and develop arteries.

      To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

      by UntimelyRippd on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 06:18:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  But they also scavange free radicals that can (11+ / 0-)

        lead to mutation, and some also help the body expel heavy metals that might otherwise stay trapped in the body and can also lead to inflammation and mutation.

        If Anti-oxidants are bad, don't eat anything high in anthocyanins like blue berries, raspberries, cranberries, purple potatoes, red onions, black rice or anything called a "super food".

        Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

        by GreenMother on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 06:44:30 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Indeed -- the point is exactly that the same (22+ / 0-)

          things that give anti-oxidants their health benefits may make them a boon to your cancer cells.

          Thus, it may be that anti-oxidants help to prevent cancer (by preventing oxidative damage to your DNA), but once you've got cancer, they do more harm than good. And it may, of course, depend on the individual anti-oxidants. You're gonna die without vitamin C, one way or the other, so you're gonna need to eat some, cancer or no cancer.

          People need to realize that cancer is a process. All over your body, right now, you have gazillions of cells that are somewhere along the road to become full-fledged metastatic cancer. 99.999999% of these cells never get there, for a whole lot of reasons. One of those reasons is programmed cell death, which happens to cells under oxidative stress. Anti-oxidants can relieve the oxidative stress. If a cell has not already undergone cancer-causing mutation from the oxidative stress, that's a good thing. If a cell has already developed critical mutations ... well, you don't really want to save that cell's life, do you?

          To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

          by UntimelyRippd on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 06:54:42 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  If antioxidants are bad after you have cancer (8+ / 0-)

            Why does a diet high in dark leafy greens, and rich dark fruits benefit the person undergoing treatment?

            Perhaps the kind of derivations used in the study lacked chemical analogues found in natural foods ?

            The problem with some drugs seems to be indicating something like this at times. We use natural herbs to find chemical constituents to treat various conditions. But natural sources often contain a lot of chemicals, that work together.

            our patenting process however, requires isolation of substances and synthesis--

            Sources could be just as important as dosage and timing

            Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

            by GreenMother on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 09:07:33 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  That may be the point (17+ / 0-)

              Ultimately supplements aren't really as good for you as the foods they naturally occur in. I really shouldn't say anything, though I just did, since my morning ritual includes gobbling down TONS of supplements. Maybe I should just eat better instead.

            •  please? (8+ / 0-)

              don't make generalizations like this "If antioxidants are bad after you have cancer"

              It depends on so many factors, probably which cancer, which stage(s), how much of which vitamin, mineral, which form and how adminstered, in which combination, where in treatment, which treatment, and very importantly depending on your unique levels to start...

              The important thing is if you have cancer work with your doctors, medical, and otherwise; thank heaven for integrative care where some of the burden of being the latest genius on the planet is lifted for the patient

              But you are 1,000,000% right, Eating well, in whole foods is common sense, it should be the baseline

              •  It was a rhetorical statement (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Carol in San Antonio

                I do not perceive antioxidants to be bad for most people.

                And for many people who are already health conscious who use supplements and eat right, the hardest part is finding a doctor that will work with them in that frame work, not the other way around.

                The biggest things that feed cancer: Sugar, Dairy, Red Meat-fats, and pollutants that bioaccumulate in said adipose tissues.

                These seem to be the long term factors that create a multitude of tipping points that turn those oncogenes on and off.

                Antioxidants, when they are part of a sensible diet and exercise can help keep some of those genes from getting turned on.

                However once they are on, you do have to look at a much more complicated picture:

                How does one turn off ATP production in only or mostly the abnormal cells.

                How does one deprive the abnormal structures of their blood supply

                And even if you do everything right, it still might not work.

                I have noticed that on the interubz a lot of people feel perfectly fine in attacking cancer patients and other chronically ill people, when they mention the supplements and regimens to treat their conditions either as stand alone treatments or as complimentary treatments, as if such things were superstitious claptrap. It's outrageous to me, it's in bad taste, because it's kicking a person while they are down and trying like hell to tip all those epigenetic factors back in their favor, while embracing the complexities of nutrients, and cellular processes etc.,

                I also notice that Doctors and drug companies are not helpful either which is why so many people go to Mexico for alternative treatments or complimentary treatments they just cannot find here in the states, or afford because it's not covered by their insurance.

                It's just not right to do people like that.
                It's not right to deprive them of natural substances that could help them, or to make them feel bad about dietary choices or alternative healthcare practices that are not harmful and may be somewhat or even very helpful.

                I am suspicious of this study and the agenda of the people or organizations who funded it because of it's conclusions.

                The vitamin, supplement and alt treatment markets have begun to seriously compete with mainstream treatments to the point that some places are starting to include aspects of this either to make money or to ensure patients will stick with mainstream treatments.

                That says a lot  right there.

                Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

                by GreenMother on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 06:26:31 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Thank you for that valuable point. (0+ / 0-)

                I hate seeing a perhaps industry-generated study on how awful Vitamins are for people.

                It's okay to have nasty stuff in our water, and horrible things in our foods, and now we are going to suddenly have an onslaught of articles on how awful vitamins are.

                I think one very big problem is we don't fully understand the overall workings of various things. For instance, copper has never been considered an important nutritional item. It was felt, back when first studied in the 1920's, 30's and 40's, that very little is needed  in the human diet, and that amount can be provided by eating veggies and fish.

                But right now, our soils is so depleted, that who knows if we are getting enough copper? So maybe if a person with cancer doesn't have the little bit of copper their body needs, then the Vitamin C doesn't help the way it normally would.

                BTW, the symptoms of having a copper deficiency are pretty much what multiple sclerosis looks like! And anyone who is worried they might be short on copper, should have the proper tests done by specialists. Simply increasing your copper requirements is a bad way to go, as it is also very easy to overload on copper, which is not a good thing to do at all.

            •  "Bad" is not a category in science. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Antioxidants can't be "bad" any more than rocks can.

              I have seen research very much like this, some years ago. The simple (and probably wrong) explanation is that some antioxidants help keep cells healthy - but that includes cancer cells. So it's a mixed bag.

              Early to rise and early to bed Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and dead. --Not Benjamin Franklin

              by Boundegar on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 06:56:47 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  most of the supplements.... (5+ / 0-)

            are in much higher doses and lack the other value of the natural products like fruits and vegetables.  Juicing also wastes a lot of the value of fruits and vegetables.  All the epidemiological studies say eat the colorful fruits and vegetables.  

            This sounds like an interesting study that I will look up and read.

            I am glad the author wrote this summary.

            You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

            by murrayewv on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 09:50:24 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  As everything, its likely a double edged sword (18+ / 0-)

          Vitamin C and E are certainly essential for life, and the authors clearly point out that they have no data on tumor initiation.

          But clearly, in mice that have tumors, large doses of antioxidants lead to poor clinical prognosis.

          Its also a question of dose - mice receiving 100mg/kg of Vitamin E did better than those receiving 500mg/kg. These are extremely high doses - the low dose would be similar to an adult taking 4000 I.U. Vitamin E (the pills I used to take were 400 I.U.).

        •  It's not that simple. Antioxidants don't expel (14+ / 0-)

          heavy metals. Mutations are usually bad but can also be good. Most traditional cancer drugs work by creating lots of mutations that tend to be primarily directed towards cancer cells since they are the ones that grow quickly and use their DNA extensively. Also, low levels of antioxidants stimulate production of the enzyme (phase II enzymes) that get rid of carcinogens.

          FWIW, it should have been expected. Oxidative damage is used to kill cancer cells. So prevention of oxidative damage could easily promote cancer growth.

      •  "untimelyr":"the cells are starved for oxygen, and (0+ / 0-)

        enter a process called, "programmed cell death".

        "Cell death", perhaps not always... see below,

        Stress and stem cells

        John Tower,author.

        The publisher's final edited version of this article is available at Wiley Interdiscip Rev Dev Biol
        See other articles in PMC that cite the published article. this brief abstract:
         "The unique properties and functions of stem cells make them particularly susceptible to stresses and also lead to their regulation by stress. Stem cell division must respond to the demand to replenish cells during normal tissue turnover as well as in response to damage. Oxidative stress, mechanical stress, growth factors, and cytokines

        signal stem cell division and differentiation."
        •  There are some very, very interesting links (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          between stem cells and cancer cells.

          Though I'm not really sure how your comment, or the cited article, contradict what I said. It is precisely the fact that the cancer cells do not die under oxidative stress that makes them unusual and dangerous.

          To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

          by UntimelyRippd on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 03:33:03 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks. I knew the part about (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        the blood supply. I did not know that there were previous studies using human cells. I appreciate you not bashing me for being suspicious of the study using GE mice.

        Only thing more infuriating than an ignorant man is one who tries to make others ignorant for his own gain. Crashing Vor

        by emmasnacker on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 06:36:54 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  If I may further clarify: (10+ / 0-)

      This experiment was conducted under the hypothesis that the anti-oxidants would help the tumors grow. That hypothesis was based on previous observations of the effects of anti-oxidants in, primarily, human breast tissue cultures.

      It would have been a surprising result if they had found something other than what they found -- at that point, they would have needed to find an explanation for why they did NOT observe the expected effect. One question then would precisely be whether there is something special about mice that stops the anti-oxidants from having the expected effect.

      As it is, the question instead must be, "Is there anything special about humans that makes their cells respond to anti-oxidants in one way in culture, but another in vivo?" At the moment, I'd certainly advise any friend with a cancer diagnoses to avoid taking anti-oxidant supplements, or for that matter eating anti-oxidant-laden foods (and yes, current clinical practice is that women with breast cancer diagnoses are advised to stay away from soy and its anti-oxidant isoflavones).

      To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

      by UntimelyRippd on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 06:35:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Standard (4+ / 0-)

      Model systems are used specifically because they are genetically manipulable. You are right in ONE way: model organisms tend to be genetically homogenous (to remove extraneous variables) and humans are not. That is one limitation to using model organisms. But the very fact that they are genetically modified is what makes them MORE useful because you can test the effects on various enzymes in the body.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes! Find me on Linkedin.

      by mole333 on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 10:53:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  its foundational work intended to see if more (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      in depth, controlled study is warranted, nothing more.

    •  Unanswered... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      raoul78, RiveroftheWest

      But do antioxidants make it less likely for tumors to occur?

      Warren/Grayson 2016! Yes We Can!

      by BenFranklin99 on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 06:12:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'll find the link later but most research project (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raoul78, elfling, 4Freedom

    on supplements have the wrong protocols and end points. Looking at vitamins and other supplements the same way drugs are researched is just wrong from a scientific point of view. But it does help reenforce most physicians preconceptions.

    Life is just a bowl of Cherries, that stain your hands and clothes and have pits that break your teeth.

    by OHdog on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 05:06:23 AM PST

    •  I found the article and it is byresearchers who (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      have a lot of experience with this topic. Published in Nurtirents volume 5, number 12,pages 5161-5192 as found here. Free pdf download but here is the abstract:

      Abstract: Research progress to understand the role of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in human health has been slow in coming. This is predominantly the result of several flawed approaches to study design, often lacking a full appreciation of the redox chemistry and biology of ascorbic acid. In this review, we summarize our knowledge surrounding the limitations of common approaches used in vitamin C research. In human cell culture, the primary issues are the high oxygen environment, presence of redox-active transition metal ions in culture media, and the use of immortalized cell lines grown in the absence of supplemental ascorbic acid. Studies in animal models are also limited due to the presence of endogenous ascorbic acid synthesis. Despite the use of genetically altered rodent strains lacking synthesis capacity, there are additional concerns that these models do not adequately recapitulate the effects of vitamin C deprivation and supplementation observed in humans. Lastly, several flaws in study design endemic to randomized controlled trials and other human studies greatly limit their conclusions and impact. There also is anecdotal evidence of positive and negative health effects of vitamin C that are widely accepted but have not been substantiated. Only with careful attention to study design and experimental detail can we further our understanding of the possible roles of vitamin C in promoting human health and preventing or treating disease.
      Keywords: vitamin C; ascorbic acid; cell culture; animals; human; study design

      Life is just a bowl of Cherries, that stain your hands and clothes and have pits that break your teeth.

      by OHdog on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 02:37:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree with this part (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ChemBob, OHdog, slouchsock
        There also is anecdotal evidence of positive and negative health effects of vitamin C that are widely accepted but have not been substantiated. Only with careful attention to study design and experimental detail can we further our understanding of the possible roles of vitamin C in promoting human health and preventing or treating disease.
        The general purpose of my diary was to point out that there is an awful lot we don't really know about human biology and nutrition, and in some cases (such as with Vit E and NAC in this study) things that everyone knows to be good for you may, in certain cases, not be.  
  •  for a few years now, antioxidants have been (11+ / 0-)

    considered contraindicated for women with breast cancer diagnoses. among other things, it's pretty clear they help cancer cells survive radiation therapy.

    To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

    by UntimelyRippd on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 06:10:22 AM PST

  •  Some Antioxidants increase ATP production in cells (10+ / 0-)

    That would explain tumor growth in some models.

    N-Acetyl Cysteine is taken to increase endogenous glutathione in the body. It can also slightly raise blood sugar. So it's counterindicated for diabetics. It also has protective qualities for the liver, and has been used by some recovering alcoholics and heavy drinkers. Glutathione is used to help protect smokers, people exposed to radiation, and it helps the body detoxify heavy metals which is very important to those of us exposed to pesticides and fuel exhaust or other petroleum products that can increase heavy metal absorption.

    N-Acetyl Cysteine has been used by AIDs patients to treat chronic bronchitis.

    Vitamin C --excess vitamin C is passed out of the body through the urine. Taking megadoses of Vitamin C in a cancer treatment can lead to kidney stones, and hydration is very important. Vitamin C also binds with heavy metals  and helps the body pass them.

    Perhaps combined or in megadoses what switches the onco-genes one are the flushing of zinc or iron or other trace elements needed for proper protective cell function.

    In cancer, depriving the cell of iron helps, but maybe not in this case or not with mice. Vt C can reduce cholesterol too and that's good when someone has bad cholesterol but if it leads to thinning cell membranes at mega doses, that could be problematic for a being with normal cholesterol taking mega doses.

    I know that mice make good homologues for people in lab experiments, but it seems that whenever supplements are used on mice that have bad effect the effect is bad for people always, And when those supplements have a good effect, then it's "just a mouse study".

    I would need to see a lot more data on this. I believe that it's wise to avoid megadoses of most supplements just because you cannot know what long term use will do to the body in general. Follow the directions and do your homework.

    However, If you are using mega doses to treat cancer how is that any more harmful in this case, than flooding the body with radiation or chemo which has known mutagen effects that raise the spectre of future cancer development in the blood?

    I have taken NAC to raise my blood sugar and to help my liver because of other medical conditions, and it has helped tremendously. NAC also helps with chronic allergies because it breaks down mucus, much like MSM.

    Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

    by GreenMother on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 06:40:29 AM PST

    •  To the last question (5+ / 0-)

      The difference between mega-doses of vitamin E and chemo or radiation therapy are how well these treatments have been studied.

      Long term survival chances after radiation and chemo for specific cancers are well known, and, to my knowledge (not a physician), the best treatment is the one that has been shown to give the highest survival.

      Mega-doses of vitamins haven't been so thoroughly tested, there is no/little clinical evidence of whether the treatment is helpful, or, as this study may suggest, actually harmful.  

      This is known as evidence based medicine.

    •  This: (9+ / 0-)
      However, If you are using mega doses to treat cancer how is that any more harmful in this case, than flooding the body with radiation or chemo which has known mutagen effects that raise the spectre of future cancer development in the blood?
      ... is exactly why this study needs to be taken seriously.

      People want the answers to these questions to be black and white: Vitamin E, Good for cancer patients, or Vitamin E Bad for cancer patients. They don't want to be told that there's a continuum -- indeed, there's a multi-dimensional space of continuua -- in which any individual outcome is a probability experiment. Radiation causes cancer, yet radiation kills cancer. Somewhere in the infinite set of possible radiation protocols for a particular patient, there's the sweet spot that maximizes the chance of the desired outcome: Current cancer dead, No new cancers created. That's two interacting probabilistic processes. Now add anti-oxidant therapy. Anti-oxidants mitigate the damage done by radiation to healthy tissue. Of course, they also mitigate the damage done by radiation to cancer cells. (Hell, they mitigate the damage done to your skin by UV rays.) So ... where's the sweet spot? Are there some anti-oxidants that, for reasons we can't even speculate, are specifically better or specifically worse choices for people undergoing radiation therapy?

      Now add one more probabilistic process: Anti-oxidants appear to give succour to small cancer tumors, regardless of radiation therapy. How does that process affect the "sweet spot" for combining radiation and anti-oxidant therapies?

      Unfortunately, it's possible that most of the systems we're describing are just too damned complex for us to ever be able to answer these questions.

      To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

      by UntimelyRippd on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 07:12:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's a miserable choice to make (8+ / 0-)

      "If you are using mega doses to treat cancer how is that any more harmful in this case, than flooding the body with radiation or chemo which has known mutagen effects that raise the spectre of future cancer development in the blood?"

      I so wanted high dose IV vit C to be the alternative to chemo, and some have pursued it and lived to tell the tale, but slim in the way of experimental validation

      Back to your question, and why I am settling for chemo, there's validated data on chances of recurrence for specific tumor types with certain chemo tx, for me (TNBC stage 1, taxofere and cytoxan tx) from 35% to 15% with chemo, then to 5% with follow on radiation, so I'm fighting the recurrence

      Cytoxan is a mustard gas derivative! Lord help! with a albeit slight risk of leukemia... but at this point in the struggle I fight recurrence anywhere

      So, what's a girl to do

    •  GreenMother, I recommend the 2009 (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      raoul78, greengemini, terrypinder

      Schafer paper, if you have access to Nature archives. Given your insight on ATP, I think you would find it very interesting. Here are a couple of highlights from the abstract:

      ... Here we demonstrate that detachment of mammary epithelial cells from ECM causes an ATP deficiency owing to the loss of glucose transport ... Notably, we found that the ATP deficiency could be rescued by antioxidant treatment without rescue of glucose uptake. This rescue was found to be dependent on stimulation of fatty acid oxidation, which is inhibited by detachment-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) ... These results show both the importance of matrix attachment in regulating metabolic activity and an unanticipated mechanism for cell survival in altered matrix environments by antioxidant restoration of ATP generation.

      To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

      by UntimelyRippd on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 07:42:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That talks way above my paygrade. (7+ / 0-)

        Right now I am doing my own research on ovarian neoplasms. I have had to avoid certain supplements that promote ATP production, namely COQ10. I also learned that certain laser treatments used to help patients recover after surgery are successful because they too increase ATP production, which can lead to faster, deeper healing, BUT also would be counterindicated as a tumor treatment.

        Mammary epithelial cells are from the inside of the breast, which also indicates a hormonal component. Does this paper address the known, that female mammary tissue is composed partly of adipose fat, which tend to also hang onto xenoestrogens? And that this can also make cancer damn hard to treat, due to endocrine disrupting pollutants that mimic estrogen, that are taken into and stored in the fat.

        I think it's awesome how much people pay lip service to their concerns about cancer, but then fight like hell whenever attempts are made to regulate sources of major carcinogenic pollutants, including obfuscating attempts to discover more carcinogenic substances in the 84 thousand chemicals approved for use on American soil: Case in Point: Plastics and that West VA plant leak.

        Hence my suspicions about interactions that are ignored, or simply not noticed, because we don't think in terms of preventative cures, we think in terms of after the Cancer has formed.

        Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

        by GreenMother on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 08:31:04 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Most of the concerns about anti-oxidants and (4+ / 0-)

          cancer are specifically connected to problems after the cancer has taken hold. Anti-oxidants may well be useful for cancer prevention, but dangerous for cancer therapy -- any cancer therapy. Moreover, different anti-oxidants have different properties, some may be more or less harmful or beneficial than others, under varying conditions.

          The Schafer paper didn't set out to look at anti-oxidants -- rather, it was trying to figure out how breast cancer cells survive after they detach from their "niche extracellular matrix" and migrate into the "gland lumen" -- the spaces within the glandular structures. Ordinary cells, and for that matter diseased cells that lack the necessary characteristics to become cancer cells, die and/or are "cleared" from the lumen by various defense mechanisms, including programmed cell death (also called apoptosis).

          The discovery that some anti-oxidants help the detached cells survive was an outcome of the experiment, but it wasn't part of the original hypothesis -- it was something they found as they pursued the pathways by which one specific oncogene seems to protect the cancer cells.

          As to your larger point, I stopped eating soy when I realized that the reasons we were given for isoflavones being good for us sounded an awful lot like the reasons I had already internalized for why pesticides were probably bad for us.

          Nonetheless, a surprisingly large number of cancers are turning out to be caused by viral infection rather than dietary and environmental issues. That these fairly straightforward results are disputed in the naturopathic literature is disappointing -- it is clear that the objections are ideological, not rational. People devoted to enthusiastic advocacy of therapies that can neither prevent nor cure virally-induced cancer are not going to welcome such news. Meanwhile, we lack explanatory models for how hormonal disruption might cause cancer, though we have some ideas of how hormonal disruption might aggravate/exacerbate/nurture cancer.

          To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

          by UntimelyRippd on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 03:14:48 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Viral infections that can sometimes be handled (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Carol in San Antonio

            with other natural substances like Beta Glucans and Olive Leaf Extract or Elderberry Extract.

            These all suppress viral activity and even prevent the spread of virus from cell to cell in some cases.

            I suspect that different antioxidants will have different actions depending upon the condition, age, etc.,

            Sometimes they seem to support the immune system while the patient is getting treatment, more than anything. Because when the immunity is lowered one is susceptible to more and more viruses either becoming active in the body or newly infecting the body for the first time.

            I would like to see more work on antineoplastons.

            Everything we know about paw paw extract, it seems odd to me why that hasn't been looked at, as a bath for tumors instead of chemo-baths, knowing what it does to tumors and their blood supplies, or even sour-sop.

            But you know those cannot be patented because they are natural substances, which is good, because that means people can afford them, but bad because our For Profit medical industry will pick expensive poison every time over anything like that for the sake of money.

            Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

            by GreenMother on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 06:37:34 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  if you honestly believe that elderberry extract (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              is going to prevent, or even more extraordinarily, cure a retroviral infection, then feel free to take it. try not to be too disappointed when your herpes flares, though.

              and with respect to virally-induced cancer, it had better prevent, because once you've got cells whose genomic DNA has been modified by the virus, it's no longer a matter of curing the viral infection, it's a matter of killing the cancer cells.

              To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

              by UntimelyRippd on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 08:04:30 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I have used elderberry extract for years to (4+ / 0-)

                prevent the flu. I have had the flu one time in 13 years of using that. I highly recommend it. I also buy jr preparations for the kids. And there are infant preparations too.

                If you honestly believe that it can't work just because you don't know about it, then that says more about you than me.

                My advice if you decide to try it is stick with a brand that has a good reputation that uses a standardized extract.

                Also wait til you see what taking a teaspoon of raw local honey will do for your allergies. Amazing stuff. And you can experiment. When you stop taking it, the effect wears off. So you can go on and off as many times as you need to convince yourself that it is indeed working.

                Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

                by GreenMother on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 12:53:50 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  i'm not talking about the flu. (0+ / 0-)

                  i'm talking about retroviruses.

                  To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

                  by UntimelyRippd on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 01:04:57 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  You mean like AIDs? (0+ / 0-)

                    Are we now going to argue about the "differences" between macro and micro evolution?

                    I was talking about viruses, Though some people might use this as a complimentary treatment for a suppressed immune system to stave off regular viral infections or activity.

                    I don't have HIV-AIDs, so while I see that pop up in literature, I don't see anything claiming to cure it out right. But I have found a variety of materials used to prevent the flu, the cold (things as simple as zinc lozenges) and cold sores/ herpes.

                    Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

                    by GreenMother on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 07:43:13 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

            •  antineoplastons? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              as in Burzynski?

              Bryz. has had~60 trials on antinoplastons going on for 16 years and yet he's failed to publish any results. You might want to read this article

              •  Did you see the people who testified to congress (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Carol in San Antonio

                that his treatments cured them of brain cancer and other conditions.

                Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

                by GreenMother on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 01:00:48 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  pathos (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  No, I didn't see them and I don't intend to watch. I've seen numerous examples of cancer patients being used to play our heart strings--I can be one of them when I choose--and I'm not going to fall for what I call the "pathos gambit."
                   The seriousness of a person's medical situation does not equate to an understanding of the causes of those experiences, it only speaks to Burz. ability to put on a good production.

                  If B. has something valuable, why hasn't he published his studies? Could be because he makes millions off of  experimental drugs and treatments  without having to demonstrate that the drugs work. Or that the drugs the patients get are what he says they are.

                  If you'd like to get a more critical understanding of the B. story, read some of the 30+ blog entries here.

                  •  Oh, I see. (0+ / 0-)

                    So it's okay to side with the government that tried to steal his research and botched it, but it's not okay to listen to the testimony of people who say this man helped them overcome conditions like brain cancer.

                    I doubt we will ever see eye to eye on much in the  medical field. I have been using supplements and herbal products since I was a child. My family uses them too. Some home made, some store bought. I have one relative who works in the alternative health care industry. I have experiences and observations that would probably upset you greatly.

                    I looked in to Burzynski as a possible treatment option, however I don't have 2000 dollars a pop for a treatment. I found something else to use in the mean time. It looked to me as if the main group of people who had benefited from his treatment were people with brain cancer. That's great, but that isn't what I am dealing with.

                    Skepticism gone wrong is a bad as total gullibility. I am grateful on a daily basis to my parents for introducing me to alternative healthcare. Hard core drugs are a last resort and for a lot of good reasons.

                    When you can gently bring a body back into balance with nutrition, you can have longer lasting results, that don't necessarily harm other systems in the body.

                    Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

                    by GreenMother on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 07:39:01 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

      •  IOW, the antioxidants (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        terrypinder, Betty Pinson, raoul78

        seem to thwart the Warburg effect.

        Which should aid in cell survival, but not growth.

  •  thanks for me maybe just in time (7+ / 0-)

    I've started chemo for stage 1 breast cancer (sigh) and making everyone crazy about adjuvant and palliative nutritional care (to be fair my 1st tx was the 7th and 9th circles hell)

    My oncologist said no vitamins during chemo, but lord help me, I can't go through what I went through the first time

    So... intravenous high dose vit C... I made an appointment to discuss, think I'll cancel and stay on the straight and narrow

    •  Good luck to you (8+ / 0-)

      I don't want to try and convince you either way about the vitamin C, but I wish you all the best, and good luck with the chemo.

    •  it's a really tough call. (4+ / 0-)

      at the moment, we don't have the "Right Answer".

      To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

      by UntimelyRippd on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 07:28:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  i linked to this above, but it is so germane (5+ / 0-)

      to your situation that i'm going to put it here as well. note that this is OLD news -- almost 5 years old. i would say it is a starting point for researching your therapy. whether there are interesting results from the past few years that might give you more up-to-date guidance, I don't know. googling does seem to bring up mostly hits from 2009, because that's when two highly relevant studies were released.

      To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

      by UntimelyRippd on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 07:33:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  there are a few good books on this, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      4Freedom, JanL

      one of my favorite is by John Boik
      "natural products in Cancer Therapy" He is incredibly
      scholarly and detailed, but might have too many foot notes for recreational reader. He ranked the supplements based on anti cancer studies conducted, and the following were the most studied:
      PSP and PSK ( a mushroom fraction)
      epa and dha fish oil
      vitamin d3  
      Proponents of iodine imply it helps with breast cancer, apoptosis programmed cell death. Some authors believe iodine is the reason for less breast and prostate cancer in Japan.  I would read a book about it if your interested in it, it can make thyroid levels fluctuate, and have skin reactions. You would also have to be willing to follow closely with a doctor to check thyroid levels if taking iodine therapeutically. Of course, any medical information run by your doctor. In my reading any of the above stuff probably has more potential than vitamin c, but super high doses in IV form have been rumored to work. Some say it could damage kidneys if too much given. Good luck!
      get better soon!

    •  The basic problem: Cancer cells are human cells. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      raoul78, FuddGate

      Bacteria are foreign invaders. They colonize us, steal our resources, and pollute our blood with their waste. We can fill our veins with chemicals that are (almost) harmless to us, but irretrievably toxic to them. Fungi are the same, except that they are more akin to us in certain ways, and the toxins that differentiate between us are harsher on us and rarer.

      Viruses are harder to fight with chemistry. Most of the toxins that we use against bacteria either disrupt the cell walls, or prevent some critical metabolic or reproductive function. A viral envelope is much simpler. It has no metabolism, and it can't reproduce - it has to hijack us to work. We can interrupt that process, sometimes, for some viruses. It's not trivial, and our worst viruses have a bad habit of evolving defenses quickly, but it can be done.

      For a cancer, though - a cancer is a human undergoing a libertarian mutiny. Everything that feeds us, feeds it. Everything that hurts it, hurts us. The real hope, though, is that as much as they can leech, your body is better at being a body than it is at being a tumor. Your oncologist is a practitioner of the delicate art of using the margin of difference between the cancer's ability to survive an onslaught from outside and your body's ability to survive the same. If he's giving you dietary instructions, he's trying to help you make that margin as big as possible. What he's doing is very much an art, and the science that defines the margin is hazy - but he is in your corner.

  •  maybe it's better in the long run to just eat (7+ / 0-)

    normal food as we've been eating for the past few hundred years or so.

    “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

    by ban nock on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 09:40:11 AM PST

  •  no proof here = concern troll (0+ / 0-)
  •  Scientific American Had an Article ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    recently about whether anti-ox benefits were totally overblown.

    I'll try to find it. Other Kossacks feel free to out-google me.

  •  I don't know if they'll kill you (0+ / 0-)

    but vitamin supplements sure are useless.

    But to answer the question, no, antioxidants won't kill you. Antioxidants isolated from their matrix found in the foods they are contained in are not genuine antioxidants. The dynamics within a food are completely different from the dynamic of an isolated part of that food.

    by DAISHI on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 11:34:16 AM PST

  •  vit C increases the absorption of iron (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raoul78, 4Freedom

    I learned that when I had a transitory case of hemochromatosis (too much iron) - something that people with Celtic ancestry are susceptible to so I wonder how iron might be a factor in this.

  •  I don't think it unreasonable at all to ask (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raoul78, susanala, ChemBob

    if mega-doses of vitamins could actually be causing harm. After all our bodies were never designed to process 10 - 100 - 1000 or more times the amount of vitamins found in regular food. Adverse effects certainly could be possible. Just because enough is good doesn't mean more, more, more is better.

    Just in anecdotal terms most of the super mega vitamin takers I know are more unhealthy and come down with vastly more illnesses than people I know who who just consume a balanced diet.

    I ask him if he was warm enough? "Warm," he growled, "I haven't been warm since Bastogne."

    by Unrepentant Liberal on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 11:45:08 AM PST

  •  I keep seeing "antioxidants" listed in many (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raoul78, OHdog, JanL, last starfighter

    articles as vitamin c, a, and e.

    What about coffee?

    Green tea?




    Other berries like acai, blueberries, blackberries, and on and on?

    You get the idea. I don't load up with "vitamin-style" antioxidants, but this other stuff.

    Toss in dark chocolate. Above 60% cocoa content. Yum!

    "The soil under the grass is dreaming of a young forest, and under the pavement the soil is dreaming of grass."--Wendell Berry

    by Wildthumb on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 01:18:20 PM PST

  •  Dr. Oz has an interesting discussion on which (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JanL, martini

    supplements he recommends as being anti-cancer and why.

    In this linked video, Dr. Oz speaks with a naturopath with a degree in clinical nutrition. The following link is to another Dr. Oz discussion of supplements like vitamin D3 and cancer.

    The NIH monitors nutritional aspects of cancer research and is also studying vitamin D3 as both a cancer preventative and treatment.

    The money in cancer is in drugs, doctors and hospitals, not in prevention and alternative treatments. Thus most of the information about conventional cancer treatments is far more accessible than information about less costly and invasive options.

    I think one of the reasons supplements are being both condemned and studied is that cancer is so endemic in our society, and so difficult and costly to treat. The research money is spent by the drug companies who profit greatly from expensive treatments, while supplement companies don't have the funds or profit margins or patent and trademark protections to afford adequate research.

    The drugmaker (Roche) is bolstering its portfolio with new products, including breast cancer medicine Kadcyla and leukemia drug Gazyva, both approved in the U.S. last year. The company is in the enviable position of pairing strong cash flow -- almost 16 billion francs after tax last year -- with a large pipeline of new research projects, said Andrew Weiss, an analyst for Bank Vontobel in Zurich.

    “That’s a lot of money,” Weiss said. “Here you see the power of the business model.” Roche is less exposed to patent expirations than other drug companies, and “they have a rich cash flow and are able to funnel that into research,” he said. He recommends buying Roche shares.

    The American Cancer Society has published some very careful observations on the spice turmeric and cancer. Results are inconclusive, but sufficient to indicate that further studies will be undertaken.

    The ACA article ends with the usual caveat.

    Relying on this type of treatment alone and avoiding or delaying conventional medical care for cancer may have serious health consequences.
    The ACA also has a discussion of the macrobiotic diet and its benefits and deficiencies in treating cancers and other diseases with some helpful links.

    Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations. ~ George Orwell

    by 4Freedom on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 03:13:05 PM PST

    •  Supplement Companies don't have the money? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      raoul78, slouchsock

      Pu-lease. No, supplement companies don't have the regulations that require testing for efficacy and safety before they put something on the market. If you had a product you could just put on the shelf and people would pay for, why would waste a bunch of money testing it?

      From a quick look around, I found some figures: $125 billion on cancer care in 2010, vs $32 billion revenue from supplements in 2012. There's more actually spent on scientifically-based treatment, but once you subtract the huge overhead and expenses involved, but I bet there's more pure profit in the supplements.  

      "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

      by Alice in Florida on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 06:11:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Small, family-owned companies that (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        raoul78, Carol in San Antonio

        dominate the quality supplement market do not have the funds for extensive research. And many of these smaller companies do third-party quality testing to assure product quality and safety.

        There are always McDonalds in every field that market quantity over quality. Mass supplement marketers are to be avoided because of potential quality issues. They are the also ones that tend to make exaggerated product claims.

        The AMA-sanctioned drug industry has profits protected by patents and trademarks. The size of the industry is huge. The supplement industry, even with the participants I would never support, is small by comparison.

        Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations. ~ George Orwell

        by 4Freedom on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 07:49:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Be that as it may, the fact is that (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          raoul78, slouchsock

          mainstream drug companies do have to prove their stuff works. The supplement industry, small and large producers alike, came together in the 1990s to lobby for a law that specifically exempts them from any sort of testing. There have been some academic studies of some supplements that have generally found little or no effectiveness...but ultimately it doesn't matter, since those who use supplements are mostly going on belief anyway. If the fact that something is produced by a small, family-owned concern makes you feel better, that is its selling point, not whether it actually is effective in clinical trials.

          "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

          by Alice in Florida on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 07:58:34 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Over 100,000 people die each year from drug (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Carol in San Antonio, mkor7

            and doctor-related causes. The supplement industry has no such track record. If drugs were as harmless as most supplements, there wouldn't be such a wretched track record for drugs.

            And the reason most people spend money on supplements is because they find benefit there, not mere belief. The market is too successful to not have a track record of accomplishment. There are many companies, like Garden of Life, who have brought in investment to do more testing on quality and efficacy.

            If you don't use or understand the supplement market, you are either fantastically healthy, or haven't tried many of the supplements that have helped so many who use them. My son just got over a serious case of staph infection in less than a week using olive leaf extract.

            Olive leaf has been in use since Egyptian times. The Roman army used it to great effect. Drugs, despite clinical findings, have no such safety record, or history of success. I'll take the proof of millenia and millions of users over some lab tests any day.

            Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations. ~ George Orwell

            by 4Freedom on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 11:32:04 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  none (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raoul78, Liberal Thinking

    Well they didn't actually test Vitamin C but it makes for a more interesting story if we imply it causes cancer

    •  Vitamin C is an antioxidant (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      And the one most people know.  Its very often taken in combination with Vitamin E, which was studied in this article.  

      The study fairly clearly demonstrates that high doses of two structurally and functionally unrelated antioxidants lead to poor outcomes for mice with cancer, and the results also suggest that this is highly likely due to their antioxidant effect.

      This doesn't mean that Vitamin C would result in the same effect, but it is a reasonable extrapolation.  

  •  highly speculative (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raoul78, Liberal Thinking

    Generally, we need a group of studies to even start forming an educated opinion, and aside from that, the value (or lack) of antioxidants really doesn't have much to do with this study, as antioxidants are generally touted as an overall, preventive good in the human diet, whereas it's entirely conceivable that if you have cancerous tumors, which is a supremely minority condition, you should be utilizing a different diet, one preferably that includes medicinal mushrooms such as maitake, and copious amounts of white, green, and herbal teas (and black seed, turmeric, galangal, garlic, fermented foods, etc.).

    free the information

    by freelixir on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 02:43:36 AM PST

    •  There are highly speculative studies (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and there are ones that lead to major changes in how the scientific community thinks about things.  This study is in the latter camp; they have very solid data on the effects of the vitamins in mice, and, more importantly, a rough sketch of the molecular mechanisms that lead to the outcomes they observe.  

      How this study relates to human health is obviously not clear, but it raises very important questions.
      From the conclusion of the article:

      Another limitation is that although antioxidants accelerated the proliferation of human lung cancer cell lines via similar mechanisms as in mouse tumor cells, the precise clinical relevance of our findings is not yet clear. We speculate that because the antioxidant effect was dependent on p53, and TP53 mutations in humans are believed to occur late in tumor progression (28), antioxidants may accelerate the progression of early tumors and precancerous lesions. This would suggest that antioxidants are unsafe in patients with early stages of lung cancer and in people at risk of developing the disease. For example, this may be relevant to patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, who are often smokers with an increased risk of developing lung cancer and ingest high amounts of NAC to relieve mucus production.
      Bold mine

      COPD affects 5% of the human population, new cancer diagnoses affect roughly 0.5% of the US population, of which about 20% are lung cancers as addressed in this study.  

      •  not really in the latter camp (0+ / 0-)

        I've never even heard of a doctor prescribing antioxidants if you have cancer.  Sounds stupid actually.  The real conversation is about whether what is advocated as a solid preventive component in the diet should be suspended when you have a specific medical condition (especially morbid).

        free the information

        by freelixir on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 10:26:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  unduly harsh (0+ / 0-)

          what I mean to say there, medical education is what it is, collective and individual, but what's preventive medicine is not necessarily specialized medicine, and many would say diet is not a particular medicine at all, so I'm just trying to say that we're dealing with millenia of history here, what's good, what's bad, what context, in your diet, is important, and that no substance should be limited to its "class", and no "class" to its presumed function, there is very specialized knowledge in these areas that may or may not be disseminated, or sanctioned by authoritarian medical bodies, vitamin c has little relation to vitamin for instance, a presumed antioxidant little relation to a medicinal mushroom in another instance, and a limit to these studies as well, in terms of a regular diet and what supplementing Vitamin E for instance might mean in overall scheme of that, and the limits of diet and aggressive intervention in the most extreme morbid cases

          free the information

          by freelixir on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 12:22:28 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  vitamin cut (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Liberal Thinking

    Also, vitamin C shouldn't even be mentioned here, as nutritionally it has a plethora of effects and above and beyond antioxidant capacity.  Some medical experts, for instance, don't recommend power-dosing vitamin C when you notice the outset of flu because of it's antioxidant quality, but rather due to its effect on short-term immunity response, which is a quality not shared by vitamin E.  Each substance has different effects and impacts and inclusion in one group (antioxidants) shouldn't suggest similar effect in another group (immunity-enhancement).

    That said, I would keep an eye on this and, if the study has any merit, we'd have to weigh the cost/benefit of different qualities should we be feeding ourselves to cure cancer (a specialized diet, if you accept this approach).  Would the antioxidant quality perhaps outweigh the immunity-enhancement?  We don;t know.

    free the information

    by freelixir on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 02:57:03 AM PST

  •  As a physician, here's the thing: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raoul78, martini, Liberal Thinking

    Studies like this are nearly worthless when it comes to deciding whether you personally should pop a few more vitamins every morning.

    This is basic biomedical science, not a clinical study. It is pointless to even try to extrapolate this result to human populations because it's not even attempting to answer a clinical question. Trying to project such a tentative basic science result onto personal behavior is the kind of invalid thinking that has gotten folks into trouble over and over, from Estrogen replacement to Vitamin E. Moreover, many supposed studies of supplement efficacy are observational studies dependent on personal recall of supplement use rather than actual observed consumption. Such studies are notoriously inaccurate due to inadequate sample size, recall bias, the kinds of people who take supplements are are willing to participate, and on and on....

    The only way to determine whether a particular supplement will actually benefit the general population is to perform a very large randomized clinical trial involving enough subjects to be sufficiently powered to generate a valid result. For something like Vitamin C, it would literally require several hundred thousand subjects, followed for at least 5 years.

    You can see where this is going. Since Vitamin C is cheap, no company is going to sink the $20 million or so required to do a high quality prospective trial that might prove or disprove efficacy. So we really don't know, and have little likelihood of knowing the answer anytime soon.

    The very short form: a diet high in fruits & veggies, and low in toxic industrial food, will by its very nature have more antioxidants in it than the usual McFood diet, and it'll be good for you in all sorts of ways. No supplements required.

  •  I think rather than saying "generally accepted" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raoul78, slouchsock, Liberal Thinking

    it would be more accurate to say "widely believed," because the notion of Vitamin C as cure-all, while popular, doesn't have much currency in scientific circles. The current evidence-based thinking is that anti-oxidant supplements do not show any value in cancer prevention or slowing the aging process; that megadoses of Vitamin C are quickly eliminated by the body, so that taking them is literally pissing money away.

    As for the study cited, it sounds like yet another scientific confirmation of Murphy's law--the substances studied doing the opposite of what people hope they would.

    "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

    by Alice in Florida on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 06:26:12 AM PST

    •  short-term vitamin c mega-doses (0+ / 0-)

      are not just pissed away, and should only be short-term, no more than 3-5 days, as well as combined with copious amounts of white/green tea at the least, and here i'm only talking about getting the jump on flu-based symptoms

      free the information

      by freelixir on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 01:21:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think it is a common mistake to think that (4+ / 0-)

    just because some of something is good, more is better.  That;s like saying that if some chili pepper is good in a recipe, why not put in 10 times as much.  Biology is a balance and the body has to maintain a complex chemical balance to work.  Just how anti-oxidants work and how much we need is probably just not known.

    Studies of vitamin or other nutritional supplements have not shown much success in improving health.

    Whatever effects they have, they are minor effects, compared to more easily understood effects like the relationship between vitamin C and scurvy, or between tobacco and lung cancer.

    There is no magic anti aging nutrition bullet.

    "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." Bertrand Russell

    by Thutmose V on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 08:08:45 AM PST

  •  The Money Quote (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raoul78, Catte Nappe, RiveroftheWest

    I think the money quote in the abstract is this:

    The concept that antioxidants can help fight cancer is deeply rooted in the general population, promoted by the food supplement industry, and supported by some scientific studies. However, clinical trials have reported inconsistent results.
    [Emphasis is mine.]

    This is apparently a study that showed the opposite of other studies.

    It's not surprising that we would get some studies that show applying vitamin E or NAC would increase cancer rates in some situations. So, I'd want to know much more before making a conclusion about my own health.

    As for vitamin C, I think we can rule out it causing cancer at any reasonable dosage. For one thing, humans are among a very few species (which includes other primates, hamsters and perhaps a few more) that don't produce their own vitamin C. According to Matthias Rath, who worked with Linus Pauling, if you were a goat weighing, say, 150 pounds you would be producing about 8-10 grams of vitamin C a day. Goats aren't falling from the skies because they rapidly develop cancer. OTOH, if you regularly took, say, more than 10,000 milligrams of vitamin C a day, who knows what it would do? (Other than make you copiously nauseated, of course.)

    Also, we don't know the concentrations in this study. Many studies use far greater concentrations than we would take as a supplement because they need to get some effect.

    I suspect moderation is the watchword, here. The big lesson is: don't be a mouse on NAC or vitamin E. It could be very bad for your health!

    •  Pauling is the first supporter (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Liberal Thinking, RiveroftheWest

      of large dose Vitamin C, for which he was heavily criticized.

      The fact that mice produce their own Vitamin C may be why the authors used Vitamin E and NAC instead.

      I spoke of the concentration of Vitamin E somewhere else, but it worked out to roughly 10 pills of 400 I.U. - what I didn't find out is whether that was a daily or one time dose.

      I completely agree with the statement that moderation is the best practice.

  •  Correlation is not my not be the (0+ / 0-)

    antioxidant properties of these substances that stimulate cancer progression. Cannabidiol or CBD is a very strong antioxidant but has well documented anti-tumor properties. I don't think this study proves that antioxidants have a causal relationship in cancer growth. It only shows there may be something in NAC or vitamin E that does seem to allow some cancers to grow and thrive.

    Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

    by RMForbes on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 06:48:10 PM PST

    •  This is much more causal than correlative (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe, RiveroftheWest

      The reason this study made such headlines is because the authors dove further into this and provided a molecular mechanism of what they observed.

      Additionally, their use of two unrelated antioxidants in their testing further strengthens the conclusion that the effects are due to the chemical changes caused by the antioxidative properties.

      •  Like I said, if the antioxidant properties are (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        the causal link then why are there strong antioxidants like the CBD cannabinoid in cannabis resins that are effective treatments for many of these same types of cancer. NAC and vitamin E are chemicals that have many components which might stimulate some cancers as this study suggests but it's not necessarily the antioxidant properties of these items. It's an invalid leap in logic to say all antioxidants in general stimulate cancer growth as suggested in this diary.  

        Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

        by RMForbes on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 09:00:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  If you have articles, I'd happily look at them (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RMForbes, RiveroftheWest

          a cursory search of pubmed for the antioxidant capabilities of CBD didn't turn up lots.

          From the wiki page on CBD, the cancer fighting properties of CBD seem to be due to the induction of oxidative stress - the opposite effect of what antioxidants normally do.  

          The article discussed here shows a direct link between the antioxidant properties of Vit. E and NAC to downregulation of p53 and resulting growth of the cancers studied. As they are different types of antioxidants studied here, it suggests it is a common function of antioxidants.  

          I would not argue with you that other antioxidants, CBD included, could have different pharmaco-effects independent of their antioxidant activities, or perhaps that the two antioxidants studied here have some effect in common independent of their antioxidant activities.  But, occham's razor and all.  

  •  Doesn't pass smell test (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Carol in San Antonio, mkor7

    Vitamin C is good for you. However you get it. It's also good for your gums and teeth so get chewable vitamin C.

    Quit paying for the expensive vitamin c serums...make your own...your own will be more potent and effective. (Hint: you can buy vitamin c powder but google the recipes.)

    Whenever they do studies like this you have no idea what kind of vitamins they used, the strength, or what other factors may have led to the results.

    Another one that's always misleading is St. John's Wort. In practically every study it rivals prozac (without the side effects) and yet you see it reported as only 51% effective (which about what prozac is.)

    In vitamin e tests they used synthetic versions that caused bad results...but tests with naturally derived vitamin e only showed beneficial results.

    Dig deep. Educate yourself. Eat and supplement sensibly. If you can get the same effect with a natural supplement, over a prescribed medicine, DO IT. These choices truly exist but you can imagine how much pressure is out there to keep people ignorant of them. Don't go MEGA. Start small and increment up. When you delve into herbs and supplements based on naturally-occurring elements (i.e., COQ10, Tyrosine, etc.) be braced for a truly fascinating journey. The effects are subtle at first but build up over time so patience will be rewarded.

  •  When I was treated (4+ / 0-)

    for cancer, I was told to stop taking Vitamin C. So clinicians clearly already know about this. But they didn't say to stop taking C or other vitamins forever - just while under treatment...

    "The universe is made of stories, not atoms." -Muriel Rukeyser

    by tubacat on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 01:41:01 AM PST

  •  Isn't this true for all nutrients? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raoul78, RiveroftheWest

    I mean, anything that promotes the health of somatic tissue, without regard to whether it's cancerous or not.

    •  Perhaps, but (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      what was surprising to me was that antioxidants have been promoted as wonderful chemicals that can cure all that ails you, and this is, to my limited knowledge of the field, is the first molecular link suggesting they may not always be the best thing in the world for you.  As others have mentioned, its likely a question of moderation (or not full-on binging of these chemicals).  

  •  sobering article to read along with this diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    From the Atlantic magazine November 2010, about physician and meta-researcher Dr Ioannidis:

    He and his team have shown, again and again, and in many different ways, that much of what biomedical researchers conclude in published misleading, exaggerated, and often flat-out wrong. He charges that as much as 90 percent of the published medical information that doctors rely on is flawed. His work has been widely accepted by the medical community; it has been published in the field’s top journals, where it is heavily cited;
    Ioannidis may be one of the most influential scientists alive. Yet for all his influence, he worries that the field of medical research is so pervasively flawed, and so riddled with conflicts of interest, that it might be chronically resistant to change—or even to publicly admitting that there’s a problem.

    Audit the Pentagon: 25% of funding -- $2.3 Trillion dollars -- unaccounted for.

    by roonie on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 12:10:33 PM PST

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