Extensive research during the past 2 decades has revealed the mechanism by which continued oxidative stress can lead to chronic inflammation, which in turn could mediate most chronic diseases including cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular, neurological, and pulmonary diseases. Oxidative stress can activate a variety of transcription factors including NF-κB, AP-1, p53, HIF-1α, PPAR-γ, β-catenin/Wnt, and Nrf2. Activation of these transcription factors can lead to the expression of over 500 different genes, including those for growth factors, inflammatory cytokines, chemokines, cell cycle regulatory molecules, and anti-inflammatory molecules. How oxidative stress activates inflammatory pathways leading to transformation of a normal cell to tumor cell, tumor cell survival, proliferation, chemoresistance, radioresistance, invasion, angiogenesis, and stem cell survival is the focus of this review. Overall, observations to date suggest that oxidative stress, chronic inflammation, and cancer are closely linked.
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