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Antioxidants: Their Role in Health and Disease

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Abstract:

During the past few years there has been an escalation of interest in the role of antioxidants in health and disease. Antioxidants act as free radical scavengers and can thus play significant protective role in many age-related and chronic inflammatory diseases. This article reviews the role of antioxidants vitamin C, E and -carotene in the process of ageing and diseases like coronary heart disease, Alzheimer`s disease and cancer. The phenomenon of ageing has been mystery for mankind since long. Naturally occurring antioxidants can help slow this process by preventing us from harmful effects of ageing. The diet of healthy centenarians also shows high intake of antioxidants like vitamin A, C and E. On the other hand lipid peroxidation is necessary for atheroma formation in coronary arteries leading to heart attacks. This process begins early in childhood. By taking antioxidants this process can be significantly slowed down or even terminated. Reactive oxygen species may also lead to DNA changes and gene mutations, a primary pathology behind uncontrolled cell proliferation and tumorigenesis. Vitamin A and E reduce this stress and have been shown to decrease the risk of prostate and gastric cancers. Dementia and Alzheimer`s affects a large proportion of elderly population. These are a result of oxidative damage going on in our brain from our early life. Antioxidants also contribute in preventing these neurodegenerative processes and may improve the standard of living of the elderly.

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