BEIJING — Fear of mortality is one reason Americans spend so much on “antioxidant” products, including Vitamin C supplements and beta-carotene, which promise a longer healthier life. According to the National Institutes of Health, more than half of adults in the U.S. consume some kind of antioxidant product, spending $37 billion each year.
Rather than extending longevity, researchers say they trigger a stress reaction which causes the body to age more rapidly.
In other words, those expensive life-enhancers may actually be killing you.
Researchers discovered the relationship by studying how oxidants affected worms and human cells at various stages of development. Oxidants, it turned out, had no measurable impact on aging.
But introducing antioxidants disturbed the mechanism in cells that resists aging and as a result, the cells began aging more rapidly — “unnaturally fast,” said Chen Chang, the lead scientist on the project at the Institute of Biophysics, part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.