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Some dietary antioxidants are also available as dietary supplements (1,3).
Examples of dietary antioxidants include beta-carotene, lycopene, and vitamins A, C, and E (alpha-tocopherol).
To date, nine randomized controlled trials of dietary antioxidant supplements for cancer prevention have been conducted worldwide.
Many of the trials were sponsored by the National Cancer Institute.
The mineral element selenium is often thought to be a dietary antioxidant, but the antioxidant effects of selenium are most likely due to the antioxidant activity of proteins that have this element as an essential component (i.e., selenium-containing proteins), and not to selenium itself (4).
Additional large randomized controlled trials are needed to provide clear scientific evidence about the potential benefits or harms of taking antioxidant supplements during cancer treatment.Free radicals are formed naturally in the body and play an important role in many normal cellular processes (1,2).At high concentrations, however, free radicals can be hazardous to the body and damage all major components of cells, including DNA, proteins, and cell membranes.The results of these nine trials are summarized below.Overall, these nine randomized controlled clinical trials did not provide evidence that dietary antioxidant supplements are beneficial in primary cancer prevention.