DO ANTIOXIDANTS EXACERBATE MELANOMA?

As a general matter, antioxidants found in fruits, vegetables, and supplements are considered to be beneficial to health. These compounds (including vitamins A, C, and E, and beta-carotene, selenium, lutein, and lycopene) help prevent cell damage in the body by neutralizing the effects of highly reactive “free radicals” produced by oxidation. However, past research suggests that antioxidants may promote lung cancer, and more recent investigation indicates that free radicals may actually double the rate of melanoma metastasis. Unlike the lung-cancer studies, antioxidants did not affect the primary tumor. Instead, the antioxidant boosted the ability of the tumor cells to metastasize, which is a serious problem because metastatic melanoma is typically not curable with surgery.

Prior to adding supplements to your regular diet, be sure to consult with a medical professional. Some vitamins should be taken in restricted amounts subject to your health and medications you may be taking. When it comes to your skin, we are here to provide you with the best professional advice available.  It is never too early to address the condition of your skin. We look forward to assisting you.

Todd T. Davis, M.D.
Board-Certified Dermatologist

P.S. Research involving antioxidants and melanoma (the most dangerous form of skin cancer) is now focusing on the question as to whether beta-carotene, vitamin E, and other antioxidants in sunscreens and suntan lotions might pose a metastasis risk as well.

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