Antioxidants, Alzheimer’s and Cancer Connection

In In The News by Barbara Jacoby

Thumbnail for 5619By: Lindsey Alexander


Antioxidants have long been believed to prevent illnesses like cancer. Typically, studies prove or disprove a cure or treatment, or reveals an agent that is unexpectedly harmful to consumers. It is fascinating though, to read reports coming from all over the world regarding alternative options for cancer treatment. Credibility may be hard to distinguish in these studies as many researchers are not well-known, but some facts stand the test of time despite contradictory evidence. Antioxidants, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer, have an intriguing connection that researchers are just now determining.

Recently, Alzheimer’s or dementia was proven to be a factor in which cancer risk is reduced. An article from Philly News sums up the recent study where 2,600 people over the age of 65 were studied, and the findings suggested in those individuals declining the fastest, were one-third less likely to succumb to terminal cancer.

International studies from the past also looked into a connection between Alzheimer’s disease, antioxidants, and cancer. However, the link may just be coincidental, though many theories are available.

Dr. Julian Benito-Leon with the neurology department at Hospital Universitario 12 de Octubre in Madrid says, if in the future researchers could “disentangle the mechanisms that initiate the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, we can create a better drug to damage only the cancer cells.”

Earlier this year, researchers discovered some forms of antioxidant supplements that could potentially speed up lung cancer growth. However, like most studies, the evidence is mixed and from which hard to decipher a concrete explanation. The specifics involved vitamin E and a drug called N-acetylcysteine (NAC), which is an inhaled treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The researchers found suggestive evidence that antioxidant therapy is unsafe for patients with early-stage lung cancer, smokers, and people with COPD. The study only looked at lung cancer cells, but the team said it is likely going to carry over to other cancer cells as well.

There is an article from Reader’s Digest called 31 Simple Ways to Prevent Cancer. Though there is not always support for alternative methods, most people would agree that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Sauerkraut was allegedly found in a Finnish study to have anti-cancer properties. Through a process that causes many cancer-fighting compounds to be merged with the product, all people must do is wash the vegetable with water to reduce the sodium content, then, daily consumption is healthy and beneficial. The compounds are said to be ITCs, sulforaphane, and indoles.

A Spanish study was also found to have discovered steamed or raw broccoli as a cancer-preventing “superfood,” which should be eaten regularly. However, researchers say microwaving broccoli destroys 97 percent of the flavonoids.

A Harvard study allegedly found that 1,000 men with prostate cancer who had the highest levels of selenium in their system were almost 50 percent less likely to advance in the disease. Brazil nuts contain selenium, which is a mineral that influences the death or “suicide” of cancer cells, and also aids in the repair of DNA. Additionally, a Cornell University and University of Arizona study found that if two unshelled Brazil nuts were consumed daily (200 micrograms of selenium), there would result 63 percent fewer prostate tumors, 46 percent fewer lung cancers, 58 percent fewer colorectal cancers, and 39 percent overall decline in cancer deaths.

There are many preventative measures to take if one is to avoid succumbing to cancer. Though there is always going to be questionable study reports curiously supporting an industry or product, there does exist independent groups and credible research. There remains a connection between cancer and many other things; Alzheimer’s disease may have a positive effect for individuals as it reduces the risk of cancer, but antioxidants are now a controversial topic.