Astaxanthin’s antioxidant capabilities might fight cancer
Free radicals are dangerous rogues that react with just about any molecule in the body, including fats, proteins or even DNA within cells. And when areas of damaged DNA accumulate, cancer can be an unfortunate consequence.
Once again, the body’s antioxidant defense system comes into play. Carotenoids in general are important members of the antioxidant defense team, as well as astaxanthin specifically. In animal models, astaxanthin has been shown to prevent cancer at several sites, including bladder, colon and oral.1 This cancer protection from astaxanthin was more powerful than similar studies of beta-carotene.2 Laboratory studies based on human colon cancer cells show that astaxanthin inhibits cancer-cell growth.3
Gap junctions between cells allows for communication among adjacent cells, including messages about regulating cell growth. Cancer cells usually down-regulate these gap junctions, thus limiting intercellular communication and setting the stage for carcinogenesis. When human skin cells are exposed to astaxanthin in the lab, indicators of gap junction communication are improved, suggesting yet another way that astaxanthin works as a cancer-fighting compound.4
NOTE: Patients on chemotherapy should consult their oncologist, especially for the use of antioxidants, because of antioxidants' ability to protect the integrity of cells, something that goes counter to the objective of chemotherapy.
Tanaka T, et al. Chemoprevention of mouse urinary bladder carcinogenesis by the naturally occurring carotenoid astaxanthin. Carcinogen 1994;15:15-9.
Tanaka T, et al. Chemoprevention of 4-nitroquinoline-1-oxide-induced oral carcinogenesis by dietary curcumin and hesperidin: comparison with the protective effect of beta-carotene. Cancer Res 1994;54:4653-9.
Palozza P, et al. Growth-inhibitory effects of the astaxanthin-rich alga Haematococcus pluvialis in human colon cancer cells. Cancer Lett 2009;283(1):108-17.
Daubrawa F, et al. Astaxanthin diminishes gap junctional intercellular communication in primary human fibroblasts. J Nutr 2005;135:2507-11.