(NaturalNews) There's a new reason, and a big one, to think that we benefit from free-radical-inhibiting antioxidants. We've long thought that by reducing free radicals, antioxidants can help prevent cancer, of course. But a recent experiment at Johns Hopkins and published in the March 14 issue of Science shows how antioxidants may be doing much more: interfering with the growth of cancers that are already established, and potentially, even reversing them once established, by knocking out communications signals between cancer cells that encourage cells to grow and divide. Those communications signals turn out to be... free radicals, which the cancer cells often produce in abundance. Runaway cell division was actually slowed when cancer cells were introduced to the antioxidant N-acetyl-L-cysteine, under experimental conditions. This now demonstrates the existence of a mechanism that can allow a simple antioxidant to slow down or reverse a cancer that's already in place.
Genetically altered connective tissue cells expressing the cancerous H-RasV12 gene, together with non-cancerous cells were used in the study. The cancer cells produced an abundance of superoxide, a well-known free-radical. But cells' Ras or Rac1 genes produced proteins that blocked this signal and kept the cell from turning cancerous, as did doses of other protein inhibitors. However, it was considered more significant that antioxidants could also inhibit runaway cell proliferation.
At least in the case of cancers produced by the model H-RasV12 gene, other cells are influenced to become cancerous "at a distance" if free radicals or protein-inhibitors aren't present in sufficient numbers to step in and stop the process.
Kaikobad Irani cautiously summarizes his research by saying that "Control of signaling pathways involving oxidants may explain why some antioxidants appear to prevent development of certain cancers." If you're equally inclined to caution, you may wish to make sure you're getting plenty of antioxidants.
There are plenty of sources of antioxidants in a good diet, of course, but by far the most potent and effective antioxidant known to science is as cheap and available as a long, dark night: that is, melatonin. Turning your light switch to the off position earlier, keeping it off longer, and making sure that you are always sleeping in real darkness are excellent natural ways to boost your melatonin production. Even occasional changes in your routine, staying up for a couple of extra hours, can reduce your melatonin for weeks, just as jet lag does.
About the author
Russell Johnston is a private health researcher and writer with a background in the philosophy and history of science. He began DarknessHeals.com in order to help publicize dramatic recent medical research showing the extraordinary importance sleep and chronobiology have for everyone's health.