Cancer, oxidative stress, and metastasis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

144 Scopus citations


Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are highly reactive molecules that arise from a number of cellular sources, including oxidative metabolism in mitochondria. At low levels they can be advantageous to cells, activating signaling pathways that promote proliferation or survival. At higher levels, ROS can damage or kill cells by oxidizing proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids. It was hypothesized that antioxidants might benefit high-risk patients by reducing the rate of ROS-induced mutations and delaying cancer initiation. However, dietary supplementation with antioxidants has generally proven ineffective or detrimental in clinical trials. High ROS levels limit cancer cell survival during certain windows of cancer initiation and progression. During these periods, dietary supplementation with antioxidants may promote cancer cell survival and cancer progression. This raises the possibility that rather than treating cancer patients with antioxidants, they should be treated with pro-oxidants that exacerbate oxidative stress or block metabolic adaptations that confer oxidative stress resistance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-175
Number of pages13
JournalCold Spring Harbor symposia on quantitative biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Cancer, oxidative stress, and metastasis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this