However, exposure to certain elements, which include pollution, cigarette smoke and sunlight,can also increase the formation of free radicals.This is one more reason why smokers need to quit the habit, for the body generates about
onequadrillion free radicals per stick
. These elements cause damage to the tissues and delicatecell membranes.It may also damage our DNA and disrupt our store of inherited information. Damaged cellsreplicate haphazardly which is generally thought to be a precursor to cancer.
The Good and the Ugly
When the electron is stolen from an invader (e.g., bacteria), theinvader’s molecular structure is damaged, which leads to its death. This is good immunefunction at work.When there are no invaders left to destroy, free radicals then turn to the only other source for electrons – healthy cells.The resulting damage to the death of healthy cells, further signals the immune system for additional help. This sets up a continuous autoimmune response which promotes chronicinflammation and tissue damage, commonly referred to as oxidative stress.Chronic overproduction of free radicals by the immune system results in inflammatory-relateddiseases such as arthritis, arteriosclerosis, heart attack, Type II diabetes, lupus, MS, asthma,and inflammatory bowel disease, to point out just a few.
More on Aging & Free Radicals
This directly links free radicals as the cause of fifty or so other major diseases, which include heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and respiratory diseases.However, people seem to be more familiar and concerned with free radicals aging.Aging is an important definition of free radicals. This is because signs of free radical damagerefer to the signs of aging. Heart disease is acquired with age because of the damage to the fatcells, causing them to be more "sticky" and easier to adhere on the artery walls.High blood pressure and stroke may also result because of this. Another sign is the dryness inthe skin, causing fine lines and wrinkles.The free radical theory pretty much describes the definition of free radicals. According to thetheory, organisms age because of the accumulation of free radicals. Over time, the damagethey bring to the body is manifested through symptoms describing common health pains, achesand discomforts.Inevitable free radical aging emphasizes the importance of maintaining sufficient amount of antioxidant rich foods in our diet.It is important to note that free radical damage accumulates with age, just like the discolorationyou see when an apple slice is left out in the air.
Diseases Linked to Free Radicals