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Study to investigate benefits of antioxidants


Zoe Satherley SCU media officer 66203144
15 June 2006
If you are healthy and have an interest in natural medicine, you might want to join an important clinical trial of a natural product, which may protect the body from harmful oxidation and stimulate the immune system.

The study on antioxidants is being conducted by the Australian Centre for Complementary Medicine, Education and Research (ACCMER).

ACCMER is a joint venture between the University of Queensland and Southern Cross University committed to evidenced-based research into complementary medicine.

The antioxidant study is one of many research projects investigating the health benefits of a wide range of supplements which Southern Cross University currently has under way.

Dr Joan O'Connor, ACCMER's clinical trials co-ordinator, is calling for healthy individuals aged between 18 and 50 years to register for the study, designed to see if a natural product can improve the immune system, counteract inflammatory conditions and generally improve health and wellbeing.

The supplement being trialled is a natural antioxidant product widely used in Australia and the US. The ACCMER study aims to help establish the scientific basis for its use.

What are antioxidants and why are they important in the diet?

When you eat and digest food (metabolise it), waste products arise (including free radicals). If left unchecked, free radicals can cause heart damage, cancer, liver disease, cataracts, atherosclerosis, neurodegenerative disorders, male infertility and weaken the immune system, Dr O'Connor said.

"The production and accumulation of free radicals is increased by factors such as age, smoking and diets low in fruit and vegetables," she said.

"Certain substances neutralise free radicals and inhibit or prevent them from damaging body cells. These substances, such as vitamins and minerals, are called antioxidants.

"Antioxidants defend the body against oxidative stress by binding with free radicals before they can cause damage and may assist in the prevention of cellular and tissue damage.

"All cells in the body have receptors which they use to communicate with other cells. The ability of cells to receive, interpret and assimilate communication correctly is essential for the healthy functioning of all bodily processes, especially the immune system."

Dr O'Connor said previous studies had found that the natural product being studied in this research project supported cellular communication and immune function and could augment the antioxidant defence system and minimise the accumulation of damage from oxidative stress.

To register your interest in participating in the antioxidant study, please contact Dr O'Connor on 6620 3649 or email her at [email protected].