The Free Radical Theory
Dr. Roy Walford of UCLA and Dr. Richard Cutler of the National
Institute on Aging believe that antioxidants might play a major part
in slowing down the aging process.
Walford recommends a combination of undernutrition, antioxidants and
exercise as the most practical means currently available to help man
extend his life-span.
Scientists think antioxidants might help to reduce the promulgation
of free radicals by absorption.
Free radicals are highly reactive chemicals which carry around an
extra electron. The random release of these free electrons can
cause irreversible reactions to occur in the body.
These reactions include attacks on the structure of DNA, proteins
and molecules which can lead to chain reactions. Free radicals can
oxidize and slowly damage body tissues, particularly cell membranes.
The free-radical theory was first introduced to the gerontological
community by Dr. Denham Harmon, working at the University of
Nebraska School of Medicine in the late 1950’s and 1960’s.
Cells undergoing division are particularly susceptible to free
radicals. The attachment of the free electron can cause the
polarity of the affected cell component to shift which will in turn
cause mutation. These mutations can continue to replicate causing
major problems as the organism ages due to faulty DNA sequences.