Antioxidants for the Treatment of Breast Cancer: Are We There Yet?

Antioxidants (Basel). 2021 Jan 31;10(2):205. doi: 10.3390/antiox10020205.


Breast cancer is the most frequent cancer and the leading cause of cancer death in women. Oxidative stress and the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) have been related to cancer progression. Compared to their normal counterparts, tumor cells show higher ROS levels and tight regulation of REDOX homeostasis to maintain a low degree of oxidative stress. Traditionally antioxidants have been extensively investigated to counteract breast carcinogenesis and tumor progression as chemopreventive agents; however, there is growing evidence indicating their potential as adjuvants for the treatment of breast cancer. Aimed to elucidate whether antioxidants could be a reality in the management of breast cancer patients, this review focuses on the latest investigations regarding the ambivalent role of antioxidants in the development of breast cancer, with special attention to the results derived from clinical trials, as well as their potential use as plausible agents in combination therapy and their power to ameliorate the side effects attributed to standard therapeutics. Data retrieved herein suggest that antioxidants play an important role in breast cancer prevention and the improvement of therapeutic efficacy; nevertheless, appropriate patient stratification based on "redoxidomics" or tumor subtype is mandatory in order to define the dosage for future standardized and personalized treatments of patients.

Keywords: adjuvant therapy; antioxidants; breast cancer; cancer prevention; cancer stem cells; clinical trials; reactive oxygen species.

Publication types

  • Review