Free Radicals: The Role of Antioxidants and Pro-Oxidants in Cancer Development


Free Radicals: The Role of Antioxidants and Pro-Oxidants in Cancer Development


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An international team of accomplished researchers has been assembled to define the role that antioxidants and pro-oxidants play in cancer. Increasing scientific evidence points to the importance of antioxidants and pro-oxidants in both the etiology of cancer development and in cancer treatments. This book should prove useful for research scientists wanting a comprehensive review of the latest accomplishment in this area and for health care-providers who advise patients and the general public about dietary antioxidants and the safety and appropriate use of antioxidant supplements. Endogenous antioxidants systems that play key roles in modulating the in vivo effects of reactive oxygen species (ROS) are reviewed in detail. Many exogenous antioxidants such as vitamin E (tocopherols and tocotrienols), vitamin C, green tea polyphenols, beta-carotene and curcumin are individually discussed as well as their potential roles in alternative and complementary medicine approaches to cancer prevention and treatment. For public health professionals the question of whether or not antioxidants have a safe chemopreventive role is central: it is clearly much more effective to prevent cancer than deal with its consequences including the damaging side effects of many chemotherapeutics. A key theme explored throughout this book is the cancer-related events arising from oxidative stress and the over production of ROS. On the one hand, oxidative stress has been linked to DNA damage, mutations and an increased risk of cancer. Quite remarkably, cancer cells often exhibit a high level of intrinsic oxidative stress that is fundamental to the expression of many cancer phenotypes. The molecular mechanism whereby ROS modulate cell signaling pathways related to cancer phenotypes is, therefore, carefully reviewed. One chapter, based on original research, describes a novel methodology for measuring the cellular production of specific reactive oxygen species. A most important question is whether or not antioxidants can reduce the incidence of cancers or block the expression of cancer phenotypes. Oxidative stress in cancer cells is, however, a dual-edged sword and many cancer therapies rely on using an additional oxidative stressor to selectively drive cancer cells into programmed cell death. The high level of intrinsic oxidative stress expressed by many cancer cells has often been called the "Achilles' heal" of cancer. A second question is whether antioxidants could negatively interfere with pro-oxidant based cancer therapies. These two questions and related issues are addressed in this book. Pharmacologists with an interest in the rationale design of drugs and prodrugs for treating cancer by exploiting its high level of intrinsic oxidative stress will also benefit from this book since this issue is specifically addressed in a number of chapters. Issues related to antioxidants and pro-oxidants are also discussed in relationship to specific cancers such colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer.

Free Radicals: The Role of Antioxidants and Pro-Oxidants in Cancer Development