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Keywords:

  • Free-radicals;
  • Catalytic iron;
  • Redox vitamin C;
  • Iron proteins;
  • Pro-tumor iron-ascorbate;
  • Tumor-destroying iron-ascorbate

Abstract

Iron is a double-edged sword. In moderate quantities and leashed to protein, it is an essential element in all cell metabolism and growth, but it is toxic when unleashed [1]. Because of its ability to switch back and forth between ferrous and ferric oxidation states, iron is both a strong biological oxidant and reductant.

The human diet contains a multitude of natural chemicals which are carcinogens and anti-carcinogens, many of which act by generating oxygen radicals, which initiate degenerative processes related to cancer, heart disease and aging (the “oxygen radical hypothesis of aging”) [2]. Among these many dietary chemicals are many redox agents, including vitamin C and beta carotene [3].

Free radical damage is produced primarily by the hydroxyl radical (·OH) [4, 5]. Most of the ·OH generated in vivo comes from iron-dependent reduction of H2O2 [4, 5]. Supporting too much iron as a free radical-generating culprit in the risk of cancer, NHANES I data indicated that high body iron stores, manifested by increased transferrin saturation, are associated with an increased cancer risk [6]. Other data [1] shows an increased heart attack risk.