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Antioxidants Reduce Toxic Free Radicals: A Case Study

Theodore Hersh, MD
Thione International, Inc.
Presented by title, World Conference on Tobacco OR Health, Aug. 2000


Tobacco smoke generates free radicals (FR) and induces oxidant stress to both primary (P) and secondary (passive) (S) smokers. FR cause damage to cells and DNA and oxidize plasma low density lipoproteins (LDL), which transport "bad" cholesterol. Case Study: P and S smokers, who live and work together, had oxidative stress evaluated by daily 24 hour urine malondialdehyde (TBARS) tests, 10 during control (C) period and 9 during supplementation (T) with a glutathione antioxidant complex. Blood was drawn at control and 14 days after therapy to assess LDL oxidation, including time for initiation of oxidation (lag phase; LP) and propagation phase (PP) of the reaction (measured in minutes). P smoked during both study periods.

Smoker TBARS:C T LP:C T PP:C T
(P) .97 .52 10 60 55 130
(S) .77 .42 30 65 60 120

On antioxidant supplementation, lipid perioxidation caused by tobacco FR was reduced, as measured by TBARS, while the time for initiation of oxidation of LDLs was prolonged in both P & S smokers.
Conclusions: Antioxidants decrease FR oxidative stress in smokers, which may help reduce risks of developing tobacco related diseases. Antioxidant supplementation should be an adjunct to smoking cessation programs.

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