Free radicals, antioxidants and preventive geriatrics.Aust Fam Physician 1994; 23(7):1297-301, 1305AF
Despite a realisation that antioxidants will not delay ageing in healthy older people, there is increasing scientific interest in the role of free radical oxidants in a number of diseases associated with older age. For most of these diseases there is suggestive theoretical and laboratory evidence but not confirmatory clinical evidence. Free radical damage seems likely to be significant in the pathophysiology of atherosclerosis, ischaemia-reperfusion injury, Parkinson's disease, cataract, some cancers and rheumatoid arthritis. Evidence to suggest a protective effect from antioxidant vitamins exists for ischaemic heart disease, cataract and some cancers. Attempts to influence the outcome of other diseases such as ischaemia-reperfusion injury, Parkinson's disease and rheumatoid arthritis have so far failed to achieve positive results. Research interest in the field is increasing although hampered by methodological difficulties and the limited financial return for drug companies. In the meantime there seems no reason to discourage older people who wish to ingest extra vitamin E and vitamin C. A diet with adequate vegetables and fruits should provide sufficient beta carotene.