What is a Free Radical ?
A free radical is a destroyer of cells.
To really understand the profound role free radicals play in causing sickness and disease, let us first take a look at the cause of disease. This may seem hard to believe but we as humans don’t actually age, we don’t get sick and we don’t get diseases… our cells do. Our body’s health is dependant on our cells health, as described in the section “Molecules to Cells.”
Free radicals damage or destroy cells; a free radical is not a “happy” atom! Free radicals are atoms with unpaired electrons. A free radical with an unpaired electron is an unstable molecule and very reactive. In an attempt to become stable a free radical steals electrons from surrounding healthy atoms which have paired electrons. This process begins a chain reaction creating thousands of new free radicals. These free radicals attack our cells at an astonishing rate. Picture this…
• One trillion molecules of oxygen go through each or our cells every day.
• Approximately two percent will become free radicals.
• Equaling 20 billion free radical attacks on every cell.
• However a single free radical will create approximately 3,000 new free radicals.
• This creates an astonishing 60 trillion free radicals attacking each individual cell every day.
Remember, the more of your cells that die each day, the sooner YOU die.
Free radicals begin by attacking the cell membrane destroying the protective barrier. Once the protective barrier is compromised the free radicals are now able to enter the cell attacking the internal components, and impairing their vital functions.
A free radical alters or destroys the actual cells. Cells which are not destroyed but become damaged go on to replicate a damaged cell. This is the cause, or contributes, to diseases such as cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, arthritis and many others.
Having accessed the internal components of the cell it has been proven that free radicals damage DNA. Most scientists agree that it is free radical damage to the DNA that causes many diseases, including many forms of cancer.
Free Radicals and cancer
While there are many forms of cancer, cancer is the result of abnormal cells. Normally cells in the body grow and divide at a controlled rate, however, when a cell’s DNA is damaged the cell will begin to behave in an abnormal way and may grow uncontrollably, invade surrounding tissue, travel to other parts of the body (metastasize) and live longer than normal cells. This abnormal behavior of a cell is what is known as cancer. As these cells continue to replicate, they may form a tumor, which is made up of many cancer cells grouped together.
Free radicals and heart disease.
There are several forms of heart disease, but heart disease primarily comes from the build up of fatty deposits on the inner surface of the arteries. Eventually these deposits block blood flow, leading to a heart attack or stroke. Free radicals damage the fat; this is called “oxidized fat.”Oxidized fat becomes stickier causing it to stick to the artery walls more easily – causing a Velcro like effect.
From the book “The Antioxidant Miracle” authored by Lester Packer PhD. Head of Packer Laboratory, University of California at Berkeley and arguably one of the most noted and respected scientists in the field of antioxidants and free radicals... states:
“Don’t underestimate the threat free radicals pose to our health. Scientists now believe that free radicals are causal factors in nearly every known disease, from heart disease to arthritis to cancer to cataracts. In fact, free radicals are a major culprit in the aging process itself.”
So where do free radicals come from?
Free radicals are everywhere…. The very action of breathing creates free radicals. Free radicals are produced from sunlight, by pollution, from pesticides, stress, foods and medications. Even something as beneficial as exercise creates large amounts of free radicals; due to the increase in oxygen molecules being inhaled.