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Questioning the safety of certain 'healthful' plant-based antioxidants

Date:
September 8, 2010
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Scientists are calling for more research on the possibility that some supposedly healthful plant-based antioxidants -- including those renowned for their apparent ability to prevent cancer -- may actually aggravate or even cause cancer in some individuals. Their recommendation follows a study in which two such antioxidants -- quercetin and ferulic acid -- appeared to aggravate kidney cancer in severely diabetic laboratory rats.

Scientists are calling for more research on the possibility that some supposedly healthful plant-based antioxidants -- including those renowned for their apparent ability to prevent cancer -- may actually aggravate or even cause cancer in some individuals. Their recommendation follows a study in which two such antioxidants -- quercetin and ferulic acid -- appeared to aggravate kidney cancer in severely diabetic laboratory rats.

The study appears in ACS' bi-weekly Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Kuan-Chou Chen, Robert Peng, and colleagues note that vegetables, fruits, and other plant-based foods are rich in antioxidants that appear to fight cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and other disorders. Among those antioxidants is quercetin, especially abundant in onions and black tea, and ferulic acid, found in corn, tomatoes, and rice bran. Both also are ingredients in certain herbal remedies and dietary supplements. But questions remain about the safety and effectiveness of some antioxidants, with research suggesting that quercetin could contribute to the development of cancer, the scientists note.

They found that diabetic laboratory rats fed either quercetin or ferulic acid developed more advanced forms of kidney cancer, and concluded the two antioxidants appear to aggravate or possibly cause kidney cancer.

"Some researchers believe that quercetin should not be used by healthy people for prevention until it can be shown that quercetin does not itself cause cancer," the report states. "In this study we report that quercetin aggravated, at least, if not directly caused, kidney cancer in rats," it adds, suggesting that health agencies like the U. S. Food and Drug Administration should reevaluate the safety of plant-based antioxidants.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Chiu-Lan Hsieh, Chiung-chi Peng, Yu-Ming Cheng, Li-Yun Lin, Yaw-Bee Ker, Chi-Huang Chang, Kuan-Chou Chen, Robert Y. Peng. Quercetin and Ferulic Acid Aggravate Renal Carcinoma in Long-Term Diabetic Victims. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2010; 100729145704027 DOI: 10.1021/jf101580j

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Questioning the safety of certain 'healthful' plant-based antioxidants." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100908111457.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2010, September 8). Questioning the safety of certain 'healthful' plant-based antioxidants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100908111457.htm
American Chemical Society. "Questioning the safety of certain 'healthful' plant-based antioxidants." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100908111457.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

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