The Good, the Bad, and the Inverse
Written by Dr Klaus L.E. Kaiser
You may have noticed, the media is reporting a steady stream of “new science” that turns everything you knew topsy-turvy. What was known to be good for you is suddenly touted as bad and vice-versa. The latest news is just one of many examples of that kind and this one involves anti-oxidants.
Anti-oxidants (AOs) is a term for a variety of substances (dare I say the word chemicals) which occur naturally in most plants and so are a part of our daily food. AOs include vitamins like Vitamin C (VC) which has long been recognized as a vital (therefore the term “vitamin”) food ingredient to keep you healthy.
VC was the first of such substances to be discovered, though not recognized at the time. The prevention of scurvy by eating fresh fruits and vegetables was described more than 2,000 years ago by Hippocrates (c. 460 BC–c. 380 BC). The British navy “re-discovered” it in the 18th century and modern science found ways to make it synthetically from natural sugars.
Other important anti-oxidants are carotene type compounds found in most veggies and fruits. In fact, the term carotene is derived from the name of the vegetable plant carrot. So, what’s the new science on anti-oxidants about then?
Fox News reports on recent study by Swedish scientists that claims to have found evidence that AOs may not only not prevent cancer from spreading in mice but actually spurs its growth. Under the title “Antioxidants speed up lung cancer growth, study shows” the article describes a recent report in the journal Science Translational Medicine with a quote from the corresponding author, Martin Bergö from the Sahlgrenska Cancer Center, “If anything , if you look at all of them, anti-oxidants do not protect against cancer.”
Though the study only addressed tumor progression and not its initiation or prevention, this only becomes clear further down in the article. Moreover, it says the researchers studied only the effects of N-acetylcysteine (NAC) and vitamin E (not vitamin C). NAC is available as a dietary supplement with anti-oxidant properties and vitamin pills also have vitamin E as a common constituent.
Your Mom’s good advice still is valid. In our modern western societies fresh fruit and vegetables are available year-round. If you consume a balanced diet that includes such greens, neither any vitamin nor other supplements should be necessary to keep you healthy. Taking in more than your body’s requirement of vitamins and related compounds does not necessarily make you any healthier.
In fact, it could do the opposite.
So, remember your Mom’s admonishments and eat your veggies!
Dr. Klaus L.E. Kaiser is author of CONVENIENT MYTHS, the green revolution – perceptions, politics, and facts
Dr. Kaiser can be reached at: email@example.com