Roles of oxidative stress in the development and progression of breast cancer

Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2014;15(12):4745-51. doi: 10.7314/apjcp.2014.15.12.4745.


Oxidative stress is caused by an imbalance in the redox status of the body. In such a state, increase of free radicals in the body can lead to tissue damage. One of the most important species of free radicals is reactive oxygen species (ROS) produced by various metabolic pathways, including aerobic metabolism in the mitochondrial respiratory chain. It plays a critical role in the initiation and progression of various types of cancers. ROS affects different signaling pathways, including growth factors and mitogenic pathways, and controls many cellular processes, including cell proliferation, and thus stimulates the uncontrolled growth of cells which encourages the development of tumors and begins the process of carcinogenesis. Increased oxidative stress caused by reactive species can reduce the body's antioxidant defense against angiogenesis and metastasis in cancer cells. These processes are main factors in the development of cancer. Bimolecular reactions cause free radicals in which create such compounds as malondialdehyde (MDA) and hydroxyguanosine. These substances can be used as indicators of cancer. In this review, free radicals as oxidizing agents, antioxidants as the immune system, and the role of oxidative stress in cancer, particularly breast cancer, have been investigated in the hope that better identification of the factors involved in the occurrence and spread of cancer will improve the identification of treatment goals.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / adverse effects*


  • Reactive Oxygen Species