A continuous and long-term deficiency in antioxidants is believed to be responsible for the etiology of many diseases,1-3 including the neurodegenerative disorders Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Huntington's chorea, as well as a variety of inflammatory diseases such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, arthritis, and the aging process itself. Even diseases such as cancer and certain viral infections are exacerbated by a deficiency in antioxidants. Human papilloma virus (HPV) can cause genital warts, various types of cancer, and is a major risk factor in squamous cell carcinoma. The multiplication and possibly the transformation of HPV is inhibited by high levels of antioxidants, both in vitro and in vivo. , These diseases are linked to oxidative stress, a term coined by Seis,6 which is an imbalance in the ratio of oxidants to antioxidants, where oxidants predominate in the body. Raising the level of different antioxidants can provide some protection from certain potent oxidants, e.g., peroxynitrite (OONO-) or hypochlorite (OCl-).
Oxidants like peroxynitrite and hypochlorite can cause mutation of DNA or RNA as well as damage to protein or lipids via direct chemical attack. Therefore, if taken over a lifetime and at high enough dosages, antioxidants may thwart the damage or mutation caused by such oxidants.
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