Free Radicals and Cancer

Free RadicalsA free radical is nothing more than a molecular structure which contains an unpaired electron. Electrons tend to stay in pairs. Electron pairs make up the chemical bond which keep molecules from flying apart. An unpaired electron is driven by a potent chemical force which compels it to find a mate. This molecular instinct to merge with another electron is so powerful that the searching molecule behaves erratically, moving about much like a weapon within cellular structures. Its random and wild molecular movements within cellular material can create cellular damage, which can eventually result in degeneration or mutation.
Why Are Free Radicals So Dangerous?A free radical can destroy a protein, an enzyme or even a complete cell. To make matters worse, free radicals can multiply through a chain reaction mechanism resulting in the release of thousands of these cellular oxidants. When this happens, cells can become so badly damaged that DNA codes can be altered and immunity can be compromised. Contact with a free radical or oxidant on this scale can create cellular deterioration, resulting in diseases like cancer. Tissue breakdown from this oxidative stress can also occur, which contributes to aging, arthritis and a whole host of other degenerative conditions. Our constant bombardment with free radicals has been likened to being irradiated at low levels all the time. Unfortunately, because of the damage free radicals cause within our cellular structures, the sad fact is that many of us will die prematurely from one of a wide variety of degenerative diseases. Free radical damage has been associated with over 60 known diseases and disorders. An important fact to remember is that the act of breathing oxygen activates these reactive chemical structures known as free radicals. To make matters worse, because our generation more than any other, is exposed to a number of potentially harmful environmental substances, free radical formation can reach what has been referred to as epidemic proportions.
Even exercising, as beneficial as it is, can initiate the release of free radicals within our cellular systems. Aerobic exercising produces damaging oxidation by-products. Many of these are not completely neutralized by internal safety mechanisms and an overload can occur. Supplementing the diet with effective antioxidant compounds is highly recommended for everyone, but especially for those who exercise on a regular basis. V. Singh, in his article A Current Perspective on Nutrition and Exercise, states: Several human and animal studies suggest that strenuous exercise may promote free radical production leading to lipid peroxidation and tissue damage. . . . concordance between the heath benefits of exercise and nutrition and a compensatory role of antioxidant nutrients against the potentially harmful effects of exercise suggest that nutrition and exercise should form important components of any regimen for prevention of chronic disease and/or promotion of optimal health.

Information provided is intended to provide an electronic reference library about nutrition and health. The views expressed in this or other sections of this site, have not been independently researched or confirmed.
Updated on : 2/19/2012 6:18:52 PM
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