Healthy or Health Hazard? Antioxidants Found to Have Side Effects
Byline: Jennifer Harper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Hold the green tea: The nationwide love affair with antioxidants may be too much of a good thing.
Rutgers University researchers announced yesterday that intestinal toxicity, chromosome damage and fetal leukemia are among potential dangerous side effects from dietary phytochemicals - naturally occurring substances in tea and other foods normally cited for their cancer- and disease-fighting potential.
"Whereas diet-derived compounds are generally regarded as safe based on their long history of use in the diet or as traditional medicines, it is becoming increasingly apparent that these compounds could have deleterious effect," said Joshua Lambert, lead author of the study and a chemist at the university.
His findings reveal that a well-meaning, self-remedying public is in danger of overdosing on the compounds, particularly through concentrates and supplements that tout their healing or weight-loss powers, or their lack of caffeine.
One commercial brand of green tea extract, for example, claims to contain more than 700 milligrams of polyphenols, or plant-based antioxidants. A typical cup of green tea provides about 80 milligrams.
Mr. Lambert, whose research was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has found that an increasing number of human cases of hepatotoxicity, or chemical-induced liver damage, has been reported in people using tea-based dietary supplements. Research on rats and dogs also found a potential for kidney and intestinal damage.
Though Mr. …