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Antioxidants may help spread of skin cancer

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Acai berries are high in antioxidants and thought to be a great food in battling cancer and other diseases but a new study finds that antioxidants can have the opposite effect on skin cancer patients and can actually help the cancer to grow.

Antioxidants, long thought to help fight cancer, could actually speed up the spread of skin cancer.

This shocking discovery was found in a new study by Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at the University of Texas Southwestern.

The finding shouldn’t discourage healthy people from eating antioxidant-rich foods, but those who already have cancer should beware.

“People usually claim if healthy people take antioxidants, you will be even healthier and live longer,” Dr. Sean Morrison, director of the center, tells the News. “That may be true, but we are studying it in the context of cancer.”

For the skin cancer study, conducted over two years, Morrison transplanted melanoma from humans into mice. Antioxidants increased the metastasis, or spread, of the cancerous cells in the rodents.

“Cancer cells experience high levels of oxidative stress, so if you give them antioxidants, they grow more,” Morrison says.

Dr. Sean Morrison is the lead author of a study that found antioxidants can cause skin cancer to grow. (Credit: Children’s Medical Center Research Institute University of Texas)Children’s Medical Center Research Institute University of Tex

Dr. Sean Morrison is the lead author of a study that found antioxidants can cause skin cancer to grow. (Credit: Children’s Medical Center Research Institute University of Texas)

Other physicians had found this to be true while treating cancer patients in separate clinical trials and stopped administering high doses of antioxidants, Morrison says.

“And the point at which cancer cells metastasize, is the point you can no longer cure cancer with surgery,” he adds.

Morrison stresses that this study was conducted on mice with cancer, and that it should not have any bearing on a healthy person’s diet.

Antioxidants are found in foods like acai, blueberries, cranberries, green tea and gooseberries, and they neutralize damaging molecules. They are considered to have healing properties for a number of ailments including eye disease (macular degeneration) and Alzheimer’s.

“We are not telling people to not eat a healthy diet or not eat spinach and fruits and vegetables,” Morrison says. “There is a difference between eating a healthy diet and taking pills with whopping doses of antioxidants.”

Tags:
health studies ,
cancer

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Health – NY Daily News

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