By Terri Mitchell
In the relatively short time that antioxidants have been on the radar screen, much progress has been made in understanding just how important they are for health and longevity. The critical roles they play in counteracting the toxic effects of environment and normal cellular processes are undisputed. Block a critical antioxidant in a laboratory fly, and it will live less than a quarter of its life span. Add more of the same antioxidant, and it will live much longer that it’s supposed to.58 People with greater amounts of antioxidants in their blood are more likely to survive cancer and critical illness.59-61
Strange coincidences and blind luck put free radical research on the map—a field that may have been destined to a dusty corner until the day in 1954 when Dr. Denham Harman had the epiphany that the same chemical reactions that age windshield wipers might age human beings. This epiphany was made possible by his training in both fields—petroleum chemistry and medicine, that is. Free radical research might still be languishing in obscure journals had not Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw realized the potential of Harman’s “free radical theory of aging” to be useful to humans in everyday life. Such is science.
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