Antioxidant vitamins and cancer risk: is oxidative damage to DNA a relevant biomarker?

Eur J Nutr. 2008 May;47 Suppl 2:19-28. doi: 10.1007/s00394-008-2004-0.


Oxidative damage to DNA is regarded as an important step in carcinogenesis. These lesions may arise as a consequence of exposure to xenobiotics, but are also generated as a consequence of endogenous generation of oxidizing compounds. Measurements of oxidative damage to guanines, such as 8-oxo-7, 8-dihydroguanine (8-oxodG) are increasingly being regarded as reliable biomarkers of oxidative stress and they may have a predictive value of cancer risk, although this needs to be established independently in several cohort studies. A survey of intervention studies of the ingestion of antioxidant-containing foods or tablets of antioxidants indicate that about one-third of the studies reported a protective effect in terms of lower levels of oxidative damage to DNA in white blood cells or decreased urinary excretion of 8-oxodG. Although firm conclusions cannot be reached, there appears to be links between ingestion of antioxidants, oxidative damage to DNA, and risk of cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • 8-Hydroxy-2'-Deoxyguanosine
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Comet Assay
  • DNA Damage*
  • DNA Repair
  • Deoxyguanosine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Deoxyguanosine / analysis
  • Diet*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Risk Factors
  • Vitamins / administration & dosage*


  • Antioxidants
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Vitamins
  • 8-Hydroxy-2'-Deoxyguanosine
  • Deoxyguanosine