Hello everyone!  This month we shall talk about some things call anti-oxidants. Oxidation is a process that adds oxygen to something else. So, when oxygen is added to hydrogen it produces something very common that is water or H2O. Similarly, when wood is burnt it is oxidized it is called burning. Our bodies are good at burning foods to produce energy. The food we eat is ‘burnt’ slowly in a controlled manner to produce energy the body needs. During this ‘burning’ process things called ‘free radicles’ are produced, these ‘free radicles’ like the term implies are very reactive and interfere with normal metabolic processes. Normally these ‘free radicles’ are cleared and neutralized by the body using things called free radicle scavengers, and under normal circumstances there is a balance between these free radicles and free radicle scavengers. However, this balance is not always stable and the amount of free radicles exceed the amount of scavengers required for clearing. This imbalance is what creates problems.

Unfortunately, ‘free radicles’ are also formed from external sources such as exposure to X-rays, ozone, cigarette smoking, air pollutants, industrial chemicals and so on including certain diets. So increasing the amount of antioxidants in one’s diet can help regain this balance.

Now what are these anti-oxidants? By definition antioxidants are molecules that inhibit the oxidation of other molecules. One of the most common antioxidant is vitamin C also called ascorbic acid. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient and is shown to be involved in tissue repair. Some of the common foods that are rich in vitamin C are citrus fruits, tomatoes, red peppers and so on. Sometimes vitamin C is added to common foods such as chips to prevent rancidity and preserve flavor. Oils turn rancid due to oxidation and vitamin C prevents this oxidation.

Numerous studies have shown that vitamin C can deeply inhibit the growth of several cancer cell lines making it an important vitamin that the body needs. The best way to take this supplement is through vitamin C rich foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables. So like I always say, “Eat healthy, eat wise, exercise daily and lead a happy life”.

Christopher Gondi PhD

Pancreatic Cancer Cells

As a cancer researcher, I work on trying to understand cancer and about how it spreads and invades normal tissues. So how do cancer cells spread and invade normal tissues? Cancer cells produce some things called proteases, which are molecules that digest proteins. These proteases are similar to meat tenderizers. Just like marinades tenderize poor quality meats and make them juicy, flavorful and tender by breaking down the connective tissues, so also cancer cells ‘tenderize’ tissues surrounding the tumor making it easy for the tumor to spread because of the production of proteases.

This is just one of the ways by which cancer cells spread. So a logical step to control cancer spread would be to stop these cancer cells from producing proteases. But it is easier said than done because there are numerous proteases, some of which we probably don’t even know about. Some proteases, behave as controllers of other proteases. This forms the basis of my research. I am trying to figure out how these proteases contribute to the tumor.

Why is pancreatic cancer so deadly?

One of the main reasons why pancreatic cancer is so deadly is that by the time it is diagnosed, it usually is too late. Unlike most other cancers which present themselves with numerous symptoms, pancreatic cancer at an early stage shows almost no symptoms. Symptoms can be as common as abdominal pain, weight loss, and loss of appetite. Because the symptoms are so common it is very difficult to determine whether a person has pancreatic cancer or whether it is just gas. Constant persistent symptoms accompanied by more severe indications such as jaundice is usually when a patient realizes that something is wrong and by then it is usually too late.

So what can one do?

Prevention is the best cure! But this is not always the case. In the next issue of this blog we shall talk about some of the things that can be done to reduce the chances of getting pancreatic cancer. So, in the meanwhile, “Eat healthy, eat wise, exercise daily and lead a happy life”.


Christopher Gondi PhD