DNA damage is (unavoidably) caused everyday via two mechanisms:
Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS)
This is produced via normal metabolism
Mitochondria are organelles (tiny organs) within cells which produce energy, when it is required at low intensities e.g. when sitting, walking, or jogging at a steady pace.
The mitochondria produce energy via ‘oxidative phosphorylation’
This process, produces byproducts, which cause DNA damage
So basically, by keeping you alive, your body also causes DNA damage
Superoxide and hydrogen peroxide are classified as the Reactive Oxygen Species which do the damage
Being overweight can create more of these.
Reactive Nitrogen Species (RNS)
RNS is the other mechanism which causes DNA damage.
Caused by immune cell activation, which in turn causes inflammation.
Immune cells produce nitrogen oxide, which reacts with the ROS explained above.
DNA Damage & Cancer
DNA damage can damage ‘tumor suppression genes’ which will normally protect against DNA damage to other genes.
If tumor suppression genes can’t activate, then abnormal cells can proliferate.
Smoking causes massive DNA damage.
Antioxidants can prevent DNA damage.
A study claimed that supplemental antioxidants can actually cause cancer.
Supplemental vitamin E, has shown to prevent DNA damage and cancer.
However, if you already have cancer, supplemental vitamin E can prevent any damage to cancer cells.
For vitamin E specifically, it’s probably not best to supplement more than 100% RDA due to certain mechanisms that can be inhibited with large amounts.
Our body produces it’s own antioxidants such as glutathione
We need vitamin C, A and E from our diet.
Around 60% of Americans don’t get enough vitamin E. But taking too much can also be damaging.
Supplements of Vitamin E tend to contain only alpha tocopherol and NOT gamma tocopherol vitamin E – this can cause problems with the ratio of the 2, which interferes with their activity in the body.
Mega doses of alpha tocopherol has been associated with prostate cancer.
High levels of selenium, offset the increased incidence of prostate cancer.