Fruits and Vegetables and the Prevention of Oxidative DNA Damage
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is found in almost every cell of the human body. This complex molecule governs the development, growth, and activity of every cell therein and is essential to both the life and death of the organism. Changes and mutations to the structure of DNA, introduced by a variety of damages, can disrupt the normal function of the cell and cause many different diseases. Oxidative damage mediated by free radicals is one of the most prevalent insults to DNA integrity and is thought to be a contributing factor in the initiation and progression of a variety of cancers. It has been found that many vegetables and their extracts can play a preventive role in the development of cancer through their antioxidant properties. Popular interest in these developments has led to a massive response by the health-food-supplement industry to provide products touting antioxidant capabilities even though little conclusive evidence has been reached. Because of this, these substances have been the recent subject of intense scientific scrutiny as researchers have attempted to identify the active compounds and elucidate the mechanisms through which they function.