Antioxidants can protect cells against dangerous environmental pollutants

Antioxidants can protect cells against dangerous environmental pollutantsAntioxidants such as vitamin C are able to counteract chromium-6 poisoning, according to a new study that is published in Experimental Biology. Chromium-6 (hexavalent chromium) is used for many industrial purposes, and the different signs of poisoning such as cancer were described in the movie “Erin Brockovich” that is based on a true story. Now, Danish scientists even claim that the threshold level for chromium-6 is far too high and gives a false sense of security. It is vital to avoid exposure to chromium-6 and to get plenty of protective antioxidants. However, we depend on chromium-3 (trivalent chromium) for controlling our blood sugar levels.

Scientific data from a battery of tests of tap water in the United States reveal that hexavalent chromium (chromium-6) pollutes the water supplies of more than 200 million Americans in all 50 states across the country. The threshold level for chromium-6 in tap water is currently being revised by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Chromium-6 has also been found regularly in the groundwater in Denmark, especially in the vicinity of industrial sites. Chromium-6 is even found in the air, and Danish researchers have raised the red flag and claim now that industrial safety thresholds for chromium-6 are far too high, which gives people a false sense of security. EU figures show that around 900,000 Europeans (10,000 of which are Danes) get exposed to chromium-6 at work. It is important to be aware of the different sources of pollution and to take appropriate precautions.

Chromium-6 may cause contact dermatitis, cancer, and other health problems

Chromium-6 is an inorganic chromium compound that is used for industrial purposes such ac chrome plating, tanning of leather, dyes (including green tattoo ink), wood preservation etc. It is a highly toxic compound, which is clearly seen in the movie “Erin Brockovich”, where Julia Roberts plays the role of a low-wage legal clerk that investigates a local factory. It turns out that the industrial wastewater from this factory contains chromium-6, which causes dermatitis, cancer, and other serious health problems among the locals. The movie is based on a true story and ends up with the legal clerk winning the single largest private class action lawsuit in the United States at the time.

Chromium is derived from the Greek word chroma that means color. It forms chemical compounds with a variety of different colors – in such different things as aluminum car rims, red rubies, and green tattoos.

Vitamin C and an antioxidant in green tea protect against chromium-6

The new study from Olivet Nazarene University in Illinois, USA, is the first study to investigate on human cells if antioxidants can offer protection against chromium-6 exposure. If the new findings are confirmed in future clinical trials, it may be possible to use antioxidants such as vitamin C to treat people, who have sustained chromium-6 poisoning. This may lower the risk of developing cancer caused by chromium-6 exposure.
As part of the study, the scientists exposed two types of human cells to different concentrations of chromium-6 and looked at the toxic impact on both cell types. They found that both vitamin C and the primary antioxidant in green tea, a compound called epigallocatechin, could block the toxic effect.
In other studies, the scientists found that chromium-6 caused bacterial DNA to mutate, but these mutations did not occur if the bacteria were treated with vitamin C.
Their research suggests that chromium-6 generates free radicals and causes poisoning by way of different mechanisms that lead to oxidative stress in the cells. Therapy with antioxidants such as vitamin C and epigallocatechin may block free radical activity.
It is essential to eat a daily diet that is rich in vitamin C, as vitamin C-rich foods also contribute with fiber and other nutrients. With vitamin C supplements, it is a good idea to choose non-acidic supplements that are gentle towards the stomach lining.

Important: Chromium-3 is important for blood sugar levels and the metabolism

Chromium-3, also known as trivalent chromium, is found in plant and animal tissue. Chromium-3 is considered an essential nutrient because it contributes to the maintenance of normal macronutrient metabolism and normal blood sugar levels.
There are different forms of chromium-3 (even in supplements), and some are more effective than others. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has concluded that chromium yeast is absorbed up to 10 times better in the body than synthetically manufactured chromium sources like chromium picolinate and chromium chloride.

Chromium is found in two main forms: Chromium-6 (hexavalent chromium) that is toxic, and chromium-3 (trivalent chromium) that is an important element of our metabolic processes. It is vital to know the difference between these two forms.


Experimental Biology. Antioxidants protect cells from harmful water contaminant. ScienceDaily 2019.

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