Biomedical illustration of free radicals, antioxidants and aging. Free radicals (from upper left clockwise: hydroxyl radical, hypochlorus acid, hydroxyl ion, hydrogen peroxide, oxygen, peroxide and superoxide anion are natural products of metabolism and are essential to cellular functions. In excess, however, they can cause severe damage. Their proliferation is controlled by natural antioxidants produced in the body. Centre from upper left and clockwise: ascorbic acid, catalase - an enzyme, vitamin E, melatonin and glutathione. Free radical damage within cells has been linked to a range of disorders including cancer, arthritis, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, and diabetes. According to the free radical theory of aging, organisms age because of free.
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