Compounds or agents capable of generating toxic oxygen species. Compare: antioxidant.
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There is a nutritional analogy to this line of thinking: antioxidants are good for your health but in excess they flip and turn into pro-oxidants.
Sodium nitroprusside or iron as pro-oxidants stimulate the production of TBARS in mice liver and cause lipid peroxidation.
These antioxidants theoretically protect us from damage by pro-oxidants.
Thus, in one highly cited German study, people given the antioxidant vitamins C and E after a workout exercise causes a short-term proliferation of pro-oxidants failed to grow stronger.
Few publications have discussed about the photo-oxidation of PP in the presence of pro-oxidants [11].
While the study's results have not yet been tested in people, they raise the possibility that cancer should be treated with pro-oxidants and that cancer patients should not supplement their diet with large doses of antioxidants.
Intrinsically, cancer cells have higher basal levels of ROS which if supplemented by additional oxidative insult by pro-oxidants can be cytotoxic, an example being Malabaricone-A (MAL-A).
28,29,30) The deleterious effects of cigarette smoking are thought to be due to the presence of pro-oxidants within the smoke; these pro-oxidants promote oxidative stress and are particularly damaging to the lipid membranes of cells.
The key to good health is a balance between anti- and pro-oxidants.
Murray said that the antioxidant activity of curcumin is superior to antioxidant nutrients like vitamin C and E, as they are effective against only water and fat-soluble pro-oxidants.
What has been found is that antioxidants referred to in the literature are also pro-oxidants, inducing the formation of hydrogen peroxide, a necessary biochemical requisite for optimal cellular function.