Dietary carcinogens and anticarcinogens. Oxygen radicals and degenerative diseases

Science. 1983 Sep 23;221(4617):1256-64. doi: 10.1126/science.6351251.


The human diet contains a great variety of natural mutagens and carcinogens, as well as many natural antimutagens and anticarcinogens. Many of these mutagens and carcinogens may act through the generation of oxygen radicals. Oxygen radicals may also play a major role as endogenous initiators of degenerative processes, such as DNA damage and mutation (and promotion), that may be related to cancer, heart disease, and aging. Dietary intake of natural antioxidants could be an important aspect of the body's defense mechanism against these agents. Many antioxidants are being identified as anticarcinogens. Characterizing and optimizing such defense systems may be an important part of a strategy of minimizing cancer and other age-related diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Carcinogens* / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Cocarcinogenesis
  • Diet / adverse effects*
  • Dietary Fats / adverse effects
  • Free Radicals
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Lipid Peroxides / adverse effects
  • Mutagens
  • Oxygen / toxicity*
  • Plants, Edible
  • Smoking


  • Carcinogens
  • Dietary Fats
  • Free Radicals
  • Lipid Peroxides
  • Mutagens
  • Oxygen