The uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells anywhere in a body is called cancer. Anything may be the cause of cancer if it causes abnormal development. Depending on the specific type and grade of cancer, the signs and symptoms may vary. On the basis of different cancer patients, there is variation in cancer treatment. A probable cause of cancer is free radicals.
Highly reactive chemicals having the potential to harm cells are called free radicals. When an atom or a molecule (a chemical having two or more atoms) either gains or loses an electron, which is a small negatively charged particle found in atoms. In the body, free radicals are formed naturally and in many normal processes, they play an important role. However, for the body, free radicals at higher concentrations can be hazardous and all major components of cells which include DNA, proteins and cell membranes, are damaged by them. When cells, especially DNA get damaged by free radicals, this damage may play a role in cancer development. The best cancer doctor can confirm whether free radicals have any role in any particular case of cancer.
Exposure to ionizing radiation and other environmental ions may cause abnormally high concentrations of free radicals in the body. An electron may get lost when an atom or a molecule in a cell gets hit by ionizing radiation and this leads to the formation of a free radical. Ionizing radiation kills cells by the production of abnormally high levels of free radicals. Other than this, cigarette smoke, some metals, high-oxygen atmospheres and some other environmental toxins may contain large amounts of free radicals or may produce more free radicals by stimulating the body’s cells. The most common types of free radicals produced in living tissue are those free radicals that contain the element oxygen. “Reactive oxygen species” or “ROS” is another name for them.
The chemicals interacting with and neutralizing free radicals are known as antioxidants. Free radicals are prevented by antioxidants from making any damage. Antioxidants are also called “free radical scavengers”. Some of the antioxidants are produced by the body which it uses for neutralizing free radicals and they are called endogenous antioxidants. However, external (exogenous) sources, mainly the diet, are relied on by the body to obtain most of the antioxidants needed by it. By the name of dietary antioxidants, these exogenous oxidants are commonly known. Rich sources of dietary antioxidants are fruits, vegetables and grains. In the form of dietary supplements, some dietary antioxidants are also available. Beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, selenium, vitamins A, C and E are some examples of dietary antioxidants.
In fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, some meats, poultry and fish, antioxidants are found in abundance. You can know about these foods from a cancer specialist. Some food sources of common antioxidants are described below: