Lesson 1: Oxidative Stress

Oxidative stress plays a pathological role in the development of various diseases including diabetes, atherosclerosis, or cancer. Infact Oxidative stress toxicity (OST) has been implicated in almost all pathological conditions. Systemic oxidative stress results from an imbalance between oxidants derivatives production and antioxidants defenses. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are generally considered to be detrimental for health. However, evidences have been provided that they can act as second messengers in adaptative responses to stress. Obesity represents a major risk factor for deleterious associated pathologies such as type 2 diabetes, liver, and coronary heart diseases. Many evidences regarding obesity-induced oxidative stress accumulated over the past few years based on established correlations of biomarkers or end-products of free-radical-mediated oxidative stress with body mass index. The hypothesis that oxidative stress plays a significant role in the development of metabolic disorders, especially insulin-resistance state, is supported by several studies where treatments reducing ROS production reverse metabolic alterations, notably through improvement of insulin sensitivity, hyperlipidemia, or hepatic steatosis.

Lowering oxidative stress to prevent such metabolic disorders therefore constitutes an interesting and important pursuit. Lifestyle interventions, including dietary restriction or physical activity, have been proven to be essential in the treatment and prevention of obesity but also beneficial for ROS reduction. This pursuit is called Culinary Medicine and Lifestyle Medicine. The Formed referring to Plant Hormetic compounds such as curcumin, resveratrol, sulforaphane, antocyanins and catechins such as EGCG. The later referring to Hormetic activities such as activating heat shock proteins via sauna and cold exposure, exercise and a good sleeping practice. In Module 3 we will take a deep dive into culinary medicine and in module 11 a dive into lifestyle medicine.

Listen to Dr. Lise Alschuler who is a world-renowned expert in integrative oncology discuss oxidative stress and cancer.

What is oxidative stress relationship to cancer? Free radicals are unstable molecules that play a role in illness. High levels of free radicals in the body develop from oxidative stress. Oxidation involves the loss of an electron from an atom or molecule. Since atoms and molecules want to have a full set of electrons, free radicals that form during oxidative stress search for and combine with other molecules to acquire electrons. In this process, free radicals can attack the mitochondria and damage DNA. Since pieces of DNA are genes telling cells how to work in the body, when to grow, and divide, free radicals can initiate cancer development and growth. “Free radicals do not stop with DNA. They can also damage the endothelial cells that line blood vessels, making it easier for tumor cells to enter and exit the bloodstream—their highway to metastasis. Free radicals help tumors release metastatic cells, promote angiogenesis (growth of blood vessels that feed tumors), and damage the cancer cell’s internal communication network by increasing the level of signaling molecules responsible for out-of-control proliferation.” -Keith Block, MD, Life Over CancerWhat causes oxidative stress? A poor diet of high sugar, pollution, toxins, medications, alcohol, smoking, lack of exercise, stress, trauma, aging, infections, radiation, cancer cells, conventional cancer treatments, and other factors contribute to oxidative stress. What are antioxidants?Antioxidants and Cancer Antioxidants are substances that may protect cells against damage through interacting with and stabilizing free radicals. According to the National Cancer Institute, free radical damage may lead to cancer. Therefore, learning about the relationship between antioxidants and cancer is an important part of an integrative cancer care plan.

What are the potential health benefits of antioxidants? The potential benefits of antioxidants vary based on the specific type of antioxidant and dosage. In another section you will learn about plant hormetic compounds which activate the body’s own antioxidant system such as glutathione which is the master antioxidant in our body, sulforaphane which activates the nrf2 which is the master detoxification pathway in the body which controls hundreds of longevity genes and anti inflammation genes.some examples of these Hormetic compounds are EGCG from matcha tea and flavonoids which are polyphenols from dark chocolate.  

Examples of exogenous antioxidants are vitamins C, E and A and they1.Stabilizes free radicals  2.Reduces inflammation3.Aids detoxification4.Supports the mitochondria—the powerhouse of energy production in cells 5.Slows and possibly prevents the development of cancer and other metabolic diseases.6.Reduces toxicity from and enhances conventional cancer treatment efficacy1-3According to the National Cancer Institute, antioxidants protect cells against free radicals and therefore provide cancer protection. For people with cancer, the effects of antioxidants in the body vary based on the cancer cell type.