London, Jan 9 (IANS) James Watson, who won the Nobel Prize for cracking the DNA code with Francis Crick in 1962, questions the role of superfoods in preventing cancer and suggests they may be acutally causing the disease.
Watson said that unless scientists rethink the role of antioxidants, provided by vitamin pills, and foods such as blueberries and broccoli, cure for cancers will elude humankind.
These foods are believed to boost health and fight cancer by mopping up oxygen molecules called free radicals. But Watson argues these free radicals may be key to preventing and treating cancer, so depleting the body of them may be counter-productive, the Daily Mail reports.
Free radicals not only help keep diseased cells under control, they are also pivotal in making many cancer drugs, as well as radiotherapy, effective, he believes.
The 84-year-old Nobel laureate stated that antioxidants "may have caused more cancers than they have prevented. For as long as I have been focused on the curing of cancer, well-intentioned individuals have been consuming antioxidative nutritional supplements as cancer preventatives, if not actual therapies," he said.
"In light of recent data strongly hinting that much of late-stage cancer's untreatability may arise from its possession of too many antioxidants, the time has come to seriously ask whether antioxidant use makes cancer more likely rather than preventing it," Watson says.
He said a vast number of studies had found antioxidants, including vitamins A, C and E and the mineral selenium, have 'no obvious effectiveness' in preventing stomach cancer or in lengthening life. Instead, they seem to slightly shorten the lives of those who take them, and vitamin E may be particularly dangerous.
The American, who describes his theory as among his most important research since the DNA breakthrough with Crick in 1953, said blueberries may taste good but give no protection against cancer.