Paradoxical roles of oxidative stress response in the digestive system before and after carcinogenesis

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Oxidative stress is recognized as a cancer-initiating stress response in the digestive system. It is produced through mitochondrial respiration and induces DNA damage, resulting in cancer cell transformation. However, recent findings indicate that oxidative stress is also a necessary anticancer response for destroying cancer cells. The oxidative stress response has also been reported to be an important step in increasing the anticancer response of newly developed molecular targeted agents. Oxidative stress might therefore be a cancer-initiating response that should be downregulated in the precancerous stage in patients at risk of cancer but an anticancer cell response that should not be downregulated in the postcancerous stage when cancer cells are still present. Many commercial antioxidant agents are marketed as “cancer-eliminating agents” or as products to improve one’s health, so cancer patients often take these antioxidant agents. However, care should be taken to avoid harming the anticancerous oxidative stress response. In this review, we will highlight the paradoxical effects of oxidative stress and antioxidant agents in the digestive system before and after carcinogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number213
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019


  • Antioxidant
  • Cancer
  • Oxidative stress
  • Reactive oxygen species

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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