The Antioxidant Facts You Never Knew About Preventing Cancer

Aug 27, 2019

Dr. Jeremy Hayman, ND

Dr. Jeremy Hayman, ND


‘Antioxidant’ seems to be quite the buzzword these days especially when it comes to the health benefits of consuming significant quantities of them daily. By this point in time, many people out there can appreciate that eating foods known to be high in antioxidants is not only a practice that supports optimal health, but also to shed protection against short and long term disease. When it comes to cancer specifically, there continues to be growing evidence that shows consuming antioxidants provide unique and specific anti cancer benefits by lowering your risk and helping to prevent cancer. Here are the antioxidant facts you never knew about preventing cancer:


Fact 1: Antioxidants do not promote cancer


First and foremost, before we get into it, let’s address the long standing (often unknown) issue referencing the idea that antioxidants cause cancer instead of helping your health and reduce your risk. What these studies have eventually come to realize is that it’s not the general array of antioxidants that raise the potential for cancer development, but only very specific and synthetic forms of anti oxidants that might. This is why natural and specific forms of antioxidants need to be used when preventing or fighting cancer, something only your integrative naturopathic doctor would know. The other takeaway from these cancer promoting studies is that although some science can verify that cancer cells may thrive on antioxidants, there’s no concrete evidence that this can even occur in humans, nor that any drawback of antioxidants would outweigh its vast benefits. So as it stands now, when it comes to antioxidants, it is very safe and beneficial to consume dietary and natural sources of antioxidants, and in regularly high dose amounts. 


Fact 2: It’s all in the skin


Most of us know that antioxidants are good for us, and that one of the best places to get them is from fruit and vegetables, however did you know that the most concentrated dose of antioxidants is usually found in the skin (and sometimes in the seed)? Berries, for example, concentrate over 90% of their antioxidant capacity in the skins and not in the flesh of the fruit. This is one reason why fruits and vegetables should be eaten in whole food form, and not by peeling the skin or peel away before consuming. So when it comes to cancer, the more skin of fruit and vegetables you eat, the higher the likelihood of lowering your risk of cancer even more. 


Fact 3: Antioxidants will help you recover from cancer treatment


When it comes to integrative medicine, we know that providing specific antioxidants to people who have already been treated for cancer, are in remission, and are eager to engage in reducing reoccurrence, will help reduce the chance that the cancer will return again. It’s already been shown that post radiation or post chemotherapy antioxidant support can improve the body’s ability to put itself into a more anti cancer state, by improving the immune system, reducing the pathways needed to promote cancer, and improving overall health, which all play a major role in reduction of reoccurrence and overall cancer prevention.


Fact 4: Some high dose antioxidants can actually act as pro oxidants (this is a good thing!)


There are some instances where providing a really high dose of antioxidants will actually cause a pro oxidative effect. This basically means that rather than an antioxidant doing its ‘normal’ job to exert anti oxidant health effects, it will do the complete opposite, technically against what the normal purpose of an antioxidant is used for. A perfect example of this is high dose vitamin C. Using a safe and effective treatment approach, very high doses of vitamin C will actually slow or stop the growth of cancer cells by using this pro oxidative effect.   


Fact 5: Oral antioxidants have natural UV skin protection


One of many formidable ways to reduce your risk of cancer is to properly balance and protect your skin from ill effects of over exposure to the sun and environmental toxins. Using sun screens is one way to properly protect your skin and to thus help prevent skin cancers. By orally consuming specific anti oxidants, there has been enough robust research to indicate that certain antioxidants actually protect the skin from the inside out. We know that antioxidants are good for your skin (helps to keep your skin young and healthy), however research also shows that some antioxidants are natural UV protectors and can provide the exact same protection similar to that of UV protection in traditional sun screens. 



This post was sponsored in part by Healthy Berries Ltd “Superfruit Puree” drink (and also Dr. Ash’s uncle’s retirement project!). Big thanks to them for helping us spread the word about the health benefits of antioxidants, and making an amazing product to boot! You can find this puree at Sobey’s locations across Nova Scotia and down the road at Noggin’s Farm at the Sante Centre in Bedford. To find a location near you visit 


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