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Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Impact of Oxidative Stress on Cancer

The Impact of Oxidative Stress on Cancer

Cancer, the second leading cause of death in the United States, is a serious concern among people. It can affect a person of any gender, age, and culture. It is estimated that over the course of a lifetime, one in every three women and one in every two men will develop cancer. While many cancers are treatable and can be combatted with medical intervention, cancer still manages to take the lives of nearly 1,500 Americans a day.
There are many factors that can contribute to an individual developing cancer. Genetics, tobacco and smoking, poor diets and exercise, sun or UV exposure, and carcinogens can all contribute to the development of a number of different types of cancer. Over the past few years, scientists and doctors have been looking at the correlation between oxidative stress and cancer. You may have heard about these little things called "free radicals" and the damage that they can cause to our systems and body, but thought it was just a passing fad. These "free radicals" are caused by oxidative stress, and can seriously harm and age our bodies, organs, and systems in such a manner that it could end up causing diseases or cancers to develop.
Oxidation and the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) is an unavoidable consequence of normal, everyday life. It happens in our bodies and it happens in the world around us. Under normal circumstances, our bodies can combat a low number of ROS and free radicals. Unfortunately, when we are exposed to a large amount of unhealthy practices or environmental factors, our system produces too many free radicals to fight off. The ROS caused by oxidative stress are a constant source of assaults upon our genetic material, cells, and organs.
ROS often attack and damage DNA along with additional cellular components (like lipids & proteins) which then leave behind a reactive species. These can and will attach themselves to DNA bases and can form a DNA lesion. These lesions are, to some extent, relatively easy to create and mutate. This mutation can become a biomarker for the development of cancer. It's important to note that elevated levels of oxidative DNA lesions have been shown in a number of tumors which implicates the damage caused by oxidative stress as a cause in the development of cancer.
So how can we prevent high levels of oxidative stress in our systems? Switching to a healthy lifestyle complete with exercise, adding super fruits that contain antioxidants to our diets, and staying away from harmful chemicals or fertilizers and other environmental toxins can greatly decrease the amount of oxidative stress we experience.