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By Poljsak B, Milisav I.
In Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2012;2012:480895. Epub 2012 May 8. (open access)
Abstract

Oxidative stress arises when there is a marked imbalance between the production and removal of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in favor of the prooxidant balance, leading to potential oxidative damage. ROSs were considered traditionally to be only a toxic byproduct of aerobic metabolism. However, recently, it has become apparent that ROS might control many different physiological processes such as induction of stress response, pathogen defense, and systemic signaling. Thus, the imbalance of the increased antioxidant potential, the so-called antioxidative stress, should be as dangerous as well. Here, we synthesize increasing evidence on “antioxidative stress-induced” beneficial versus harmful roles on health, disease, and aging processes. Oxidative stress is not necessarily an un-wanted situation, since its consequences may be beneficial for many physiological reactions in cells. On the other hand, there are potentially harmful effects of “antioxidative stress,” especially in the cases of overconsumption of synthetic antioxidants. Antioxidants can neutralize ROS and decrease oxidative stress; however, this is not always beneficial in regard to disease formation or progression (of, e.g., cancer) or for delaying aging.

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