How do antioxidants play a part in cancer prevention and treatment?

Antioxidants are molecules which slow down the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that starts a series of other reactions cause damage to cells by producing free radicals. Antioxidants play a vital role in the cancer prevention and treatment. Some examples of antioxidants are vitamin C, vitamin E, carotenoids and beta-carotene.

Antioxidants destroy carcinogenic substances (having the potential to cause cancer) that are produced in the body. These substances also reduce the accumulation of cancer cells in the human body. Thus they play an important part in not just treating cancer but also in cancer prevention.

Most people these days know about the benefits of antioxidants. For example it reduces the chances of heart disease and help . Also, it protects us against eye and brain damage. What exactly are antioxidants? They are basically nutrients found in food which can prevent body damage. It has been found that they can even prevent cancer and other degenerative diseases.

An article published in Cancer Press Journal entitled ”Therapeutic Effect of Antioxidants on Prevention and Treatment of Cancer’‘ has explained the therapeutic effect of antioxidants in details which has been summarized below;

In what ways do antioxidants prevent and treat cancer?

  • 1) Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are highly reactive chemical molecules formed due the electron acceptability of Oxygen (O2). Antioxidants can reduce the damaging effects of ROS. In this way, antioxidants help prevent epidermal toxicity and disease.
  • 2) But, free radicals can overburden the ROS defence mechanism, thus causing cutaneous diseases, development and cancer. So another main class of antioxidants is that which has the role of dealing with any radicals that are generated.

In short, the two main antioxidant classes are:

  1. The ones that prevent the production of Reactive Oxygen Species.
  2. And the ones that intercept any free radicals that are released.

External factors that can negatively affect antioxidants 

Environmental elements that can overwhelm the cutaneous antioxidant and immune response capacity are as follows:

  1. Ultraviolet
  2. Alcohol
  3. Environment pollution
  4. Other oxidizing agents 

These harmful elements can lead to oxidative damage, immunotoxicity and cancer. 

Therefore, antioxidants are the molecules which obstruct the action of free radicals and prevent the destruction of vital cells.

Most important antioxidants that help prevent and treat cancer

There are over 4000 combinations of antioxidants found in foods but the most important ones are mentioned below:

  1. Vitamin C, 
  2. Vitamin E, 
  3. Beta carotene and 
  4. A mineral named selenium.

To conclude, antioxidants are widely and richly found in fresh food such as fruits and vegetables as well as bran grains. The main sources of antioxidants are Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Beta-carotene, and Selenium. Moreover, antioxidants destroy carcinogenic substances and reduce the proliferation, that is, accumulation of cancer cells. 



Pourmand, M. 2017. Therapeutic Effect of Antioxidants on Prevention and Treatment of Cancer. Cancer Press 3(4). DOI:10.15562/tcp.63


2 thoughts on “How do antioxidants play a part in cancer prevention and treatment?

  1. Refer to the Archive section of for more simplified science articles like this one.

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