There is increasing evidence that antioxidants are more foe than friend. Martin Bergö at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden explains that while antioxidants may protect healthy cells from DNA damage, they also protect cancer cells from our body defences. Antioxidants are chemicals, such as beta-carotene and vitamin C and E, which mop up the destructive free radicals produced when our cells metabolise nutrients. It seems now that antioxidants while mopping up the free radicals deactivate a gene called p53 whose job is to destroy cells with defective DNA, including cancer cells. This means the cancer cells can keep growing. Bergö advises caution in the use of antioxidants. His study does not say anything about the use of antioxidants in healthy people and their risk of cancer in the future. However, he suggests that people with a high cancer risk might have to rethink their antioxidant intake.

Additional information