Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Antioxidants Are Unlikely To Prevent Aging, Study Suggests

Date:
December 2, 2008
Source:
Wellcome Trust
Summary:
Diets and beauty products which claim to have anti-oxidant properties are unlikely to prevent aging, according to new research. Scientists in England say this is because a key 50-year-old theory about the causes of aging is wrong.

New research suggests that diets and beauty products which claim to have anti-oxidant properties are unlikely to prevent aging.
Credit: iStockphoto/Glenda Powers

Diets and beauty products which claim to have anti-oxidant properties are unlikely to prevent aging, according to research funded by the Wellcome Trust. Researchers at the Institute of Healthy aging at UCL (University College London) say this is because a key fifty year old theory about the causes of aging is wrong.

Related Articles


"Superoxide" free radicals – oxygen molecules that have an imbalance of electrons to protons – are generated in the body through natural processes such as metabolism. These free radicals can cause oxidation in the body, analogous to rust when iron is exposed to oxygen. Biological systems, such as the human body, are usually able to restrict or repair this damage.

In 1956, Denham Harman proposed the theory that aging is caused by an accumulation of molecular damage caused by "oxidative stress", the action of reactive forms of oxygen, such as superoxide, on cells. This theory has dominated the field of aging research for over fifty years. But now, a study published online today in the journal Genes & Development suggests that this theory is probably incorrect and that superoxide is not a major cause of aging.

"The fact is that we don't understand much about the fundamental mechanisms of aging," says Dr David Gems from UCL. "The free radical theory of aging has filled a knowledge vacuum for over fifty years now, but it just doesn't stand up to the evidence."

Dr Gems and colleagues at the Institute of Healthy aging studied the action of key genes involved in removing superoxide from the bodies of the nematode worm C. elegans, a commonly-used model for research into aging. By manipulating these genes, they were able to control the worm's ability to "mop up" surplus superoxide and limit potential damage caused by oxidation.

Contrary to the result predicted by the free radical theory of aging, the researchers found that the lifespan of the worm was relatively unaffected by its ability to tackle the surplus superoxide. The findings, combined with similar recent findings from the University of Texas using mice, imply that this theory is incorrect.

"One of the hallmarks of aging is the accumulation of molecular damage, but what causes this damage?" says Dr Gems. "It's clear that if superoxide is involved, it only plays a small part in the story. Oxidative damage is clearly not a universal, major driver of the aging process. Other factors, such as chemical reactions involving sugars in our body, clearly play a role."

Dr Gems believes the study suggests that anti-aging products which claim to have anti-oxidant properties are unlikely to have any effect.

"A healthy, balanced diet is very important for reducing the risk of developing many diseases associated with old age, such as cancer, diabetes and osteoporosis," he says. "But there is no clear evidence that dietary antioxidants can slow or prevent aging. There is even less evidence to support the claims of most anti-aging products."

The research was welcomed by Dr Alan Schafer, Head of Molecular and Physiological Sciences at the Wellcome Trust.

"With increasing lifespan comes greater exposure and vulnerability to the aging process," comments Dr Schafer. "Research such as this points to how much we have to learn about aging, and the importance of understanding the mechanisms behind this process. This new study will encourage researchers to explore new avenues in aging research."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wellcome Trust. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Doonan, R. et al. Against the oxidative damage theory of aging: superoxide dismutases protect against oxidative stress but have little or no effect on life span in Caenorhabditis elegans. Genes and Development, Published online 30 Nov 2008

Cite This Page:

Wellcome Trust. "Antioxidants Are Unlikely To Prevent Aging, Study Suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 December 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081201105711.htm>.
Wellcome Trust. (2008, December 2). Antioxidants Are Unlikely To Prevent Aging, Study Suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081201105711.htm
Wellcome Trust. "Antioxidants Are Unlikely To Prevent Aging, Study Suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081201105711.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

AFP (Nov. 27, 2014) — The Ebola epidemic sweeping Sierra Leone is having a profound effect on the country's children, many of whom have been left without any family members to support them. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experimental Ebola Vaccine Shows Promise In Human Trial

Experimental Ebola Vaccine Shows Promise In Human Trial

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — A recent test of a prototype Ebola vaccine generated an immune response to the disease in subjects. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) — Advances in prosthetics are making replacement body parts stronger and more lifelike than they’ve ever been. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins