German scientists: Free radicals may be good

2nd October 2007, Comments 0 comments

2 October 2007, Jena, Germany (dpa) - Free radicals of oxygen, widely feared to be a cause of cancer, are in fact good and prolong life, German scientists claimed Tuesday after research on worms. The shock finding could spell an end to the current fad for taking vitamin C to ward off cancer. Many people swallow vitamin C pills because the substance is an antioxidant and suppresses the feared free radicals. The research is reported in the science journal Cell Metabolism. Scientists at the University of Jena

2 October 2007

Jena, Germany (dpa) - Free radicals of oxygen, widely feared to be a cause of cancer, are in fact good and prolong life, German scientists claimed Tuesday after research on worms.

The shock finding could spell an end to the current fad for taking vitamin C to ward off cancer. Many people swallow vitamin C pills because the substance is an antioxidant and suppresses the feared free radicals.

The research is reported in the science journal Cell Metabolism.

Scientists at the University of Jena and the German Diet Research Institute in Potsdam, both in eastern Germany, studied what happened to the Caenorhabditis elegans species of worm when it was denied glucose. The worms lived longer.

Jena nutritionist Michael Ristow said the reason was that the worms' cells metabolized more fats and created more free radicals. A further test established that worms taking antioxidants had shorter lives.

Ristow said it appeared that cells can naturally overcome the damaging influence of free radicals and mainly benefit from them.

But he said it remained to be proved that the results applied just as well to humans as to worms.

Ristow said the nutritional implications were that only moderate amounts of sugar should be present in a healthy diet, while antioxidants should no longer be added to food and drink. He said he was worried at the wide use of vitamin C and E supplements.

"They prevent these highly reactive molecules from developing and thus block their life-prolonging effect," he warned.

Previous scientific studies had suggested cells were at grave risk from "reactive oxygen species," the class of tiny molecules that appears to make cells age faster or turn cancerous

DPA

Subject: German news

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