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Last updated
February 25, 2001
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The Antioxidant Network and Healthy Aging.
Lester Packer, Ph.D

Adapted from presentations to: The United Nations and World Health Organization
First Joint Conference on Healthy Aging, New York, 1996.
SFRR Asia -COSTAM-UNESCO Workshop on Biological Oxidants and Antioxidants, Malaysia, 1997

As we digest food, fight infections, and detoxify pollutants, metabolic processes generate free radicals. Most are neutralized by antioxidant enzymes, but some, like sparks from a fire, escape, and can injure our cells and the DNA they contain.

Antioxidants quench these escaped free radicals, slowing the rate of accumulation of oxidative damage, and may thereby slow the rate of aging.

Recent work in my laboratory and others throughout the world has produced new insights into the genetic mechanisms by which antioxidants may reduce chronic disease and slow the rate of aging.

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It is now established that free radical injury is involved in the genesis of most of the chronic and degenerative diseases of aging, including heart disease, cataracts, Alzheimer's and some cancers.

Until recently, it was thought that each antioxidant molecule was an isolated passive shield, which worked once and was exhausted.

Now we have learned that:

(1) Certain key antioxidants are recycled in a network that regenerates them.

(2) The recycling of electrons through the antioxidant network sends signals to redox-sensitive transcription factors (NF-kB, AP-1 and P53). These factors control the expression of protective genes that repair damaged DNA, power the immune system, arrest the proliferation of damaged cells, and induce apoptosis.

(3) As we age, cumulative ongoing free radical insults desensitize the activation thresholds of these redox-modulated transcription factors. Our genes may remain functional, but the switching system that activates them deteriorates and this drift contributes to immune dysfunction, cancer, and chronic disease.

(4) Three powerful natural antioxidants, alpha lipoic acid, (found in spinach), tocotrienol, (a natural vitamin E isolated from rice and palm), and selenium, (a trace mineral essential in the formation of key antioxidant enzymes), have special properties and functions within the antioxidant network which contribute to their impressive therapeutic properties.

By supplementing the antioxidant network, we both reduce the rate of accumulation of damaged DNA and potentially normalize the age-related decline in the regulation of the redox-sensitive gene expression.

Information and statements regarding dietary supplements herein has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Nor is it meant to substitute for the advice provided by your health care provider. The efficacy of antioxidant supplementation for children and during pregnancy is not established . If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, please contact your physician.

Network AntioxidantsTM and The First Defense Against AgingTM are trademarks of Cyberpac, Inc. Lester Packer, 1999. All Rights Reserved.

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