Do antioxidants still have a role in the prevention of human cancer?

Curr Oncol Rep. 2001 Jul;3(4):306-13. doi: 10.1007/s11912-001-0082-8.


Antioxidants are components of diet that are involved in DNA and cell maintenance and repair. Dietary antioxidants include carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium. Across a variety of cancers, the observational studies have inconsistent results with respect to the relationship shown of specific dietary intake or serum levels of antioxidants and risk of certain cancers. The results of the micronutrient supplement trials clearly do not support a reductionist approach to promoting regression of precancerous lesions or prevention of new cancer, except in a few cancers and specific populations. The ability of the antioxidant micronutrients to influence the risk for tissue injury and for cancer, mediated by their antioxidant activities, remains hypothetical.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Ascorbic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Carotenoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Selenium / therapeutic use
  • Vitamin E / therapeutic use


  • Antioxidants
  • Vitamin E
  • Carotenoids
  • Selenium
  • Ascorbic Acid