Oxidants are the most common of the cell damage-causing molecules. Oxidants are produced during healthy cellular metabolism. These normally help modulate inflammation, kill bacteria, detoxify toxins, and maintain a good tone of vascular (blood vessel). Excess unutilized oxidants damage cell membranes, lipids, and DNA. This damage gets repaired by antioxidants obtained from food.
We get exposed to oxidants from external sources too. Smoking, alcohol, certain drugs, deep-fried and fatty foods are other sources. We get exposed to oxidants through radiation, UV light, heat shock, and strong sunlight too. Other oxidant sources are air fresheners as well as vehicular and industrial pollutants. Oxidants interact with antioxidants, destroying these. Diet will need to have enough surplus antioxidants to counterbalance the loss from oxidants.
Free oxidants that are not neutralized by antioxidants can cause degenerative diseases. These include atherosclerotic heart disease, diabetes, skin ailments, arthritis, neurodegenerative disorders, cancers, etc.
Plant-based phytochemical-rich foods help regulate estrogen, slow cancer cell growth and block inflammation.
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, related vegetables, lycopene found in tomato products, pink grapefruit, watermelon, and apricots protect several types of cancers.
No single antioxidant molecule has been found to replace the health benefits generated by a combination of natural phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables. Consumers need to eat 5–10 servings of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables daily to mitigate the risk of chronic diseases and to meet nutrient requirements essential for optimum health (Liu, 2004).
Dietary phytochemicals act as modulators of cellular signals that trigger proteins that make cells turn cancerous (Lee et al., 2001). In both preclinical animal models and human studies, dietary phytochemicals were cancer-preventive (Lee et al., 2013).

Additional reading:
Natural Solutions for Cancer

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