I’ve written before about why the near magical status of antioxidant supplements, supposed to be miraculous in preventing or treating disease and aging, is inconsistent with science and not supported by good evidence. Antioxidants in general, and specific supplements like resveratrol (1, 2, 3) and Vitamins C and E (4, 5, 6), and even antioxidants in foods, have proven far less miraculous than hoped or claimed by alternative practitioners, and some have even proven harmful. Some studies intended to investigate whether antioxidant vitamins can prevent or treat cancer have actually found an increase in risk. A new laboratory study provides a bit more evidence concerning the potential risks of such chemicals.
LeGall K., et al. Antioxidants can increase melanoma metastasis in mice. Science Translational Medicine. 2015;7:308.
The article is behind a paywall, but a description of the results published elsewhere suggest that antioxidants can promote tumor growth and invasion under some circumstances. This is consistent with previous research, though the actual effects in patients with naturally occurring disease is not clear.
These results don’t mean antioxidants might not have value in prevention or treatment of some diseases. But like anything which affects the complex physiological processes of the body, they can have unintended consequences. This means they must be used rationally and with appropriate research evidence to support their use, not treated as magical and safe panceas.