Another theory, which i think is interesting is that free radicals damage strong as well as weak cells, those weak cells that are killed by free radicals could actually more easily transition into cancer in the absence of free radicals.
It is too easy to explain less free radicals as good. There isn't a single variable in this equation.
Yes, it it already well-known that generation of free radicals is part of a normal immune response. Basically, certain immune cells go into an inflamed area and start generating and releasing as many free radicals as they can in order to cause maximum damage. So if that particular immune mechanism is important in the body's response to cancer, then taking excessive antioxidants could plausibly impair the body's ability to fight cancer.
My understanding of the case against antioxidants is that thefree radicals (etc.) are an essential cell signaling mechanism ... and the signal is "kill me, I'm a bad cell".
If you somehow disrupt or eliminate the signal, you allow bad, or inefficient, or perhaps cancerous cells to live longer than they would otherwise.
I'm paraphrasing directly from the excellent, excellent book _Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life_ by Nick Lane, which is highly skeptical of antioxidant supplementation and is a truly fascinating book.
I'd complain about the WSJ's practice of not properly referencing the study, but I'm afraid that's becoming about as played out as the complaints about paywalls.
If this was a well-researched meta analysis that found a strong consensus, that would be different, but it doesn't seem to be the case.
This may not be the fault of the reporter, as often they don't get final say on the title. It would be marginally better to say "some scientists suggest". The conclusion of the article itself seems to suggest that the evidence is mixed.
These are then almost predictably found to either be bunk or gross oversimplification 5 or 10 years later.
You would think the scientific and medical establishment would realize after a while that there must be something deeply wrong with their whole approach to these studies and their interpretation, but no. The next one is always a breakthrough and around the circle we go. Or are there industries making big bucks on pimping this stuff?
In the context of normal health, anti-oxidants sure seem to be a good thing.
In the context of cancer, well, you don't want healthy cancer cells! The rules change, quite a bit.
Edit: forgot to mention one of the relevant studies is from 2005.