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Free radicals - a major cause of aging and disease

by: Sharma, Hari, M.D.

Any molecule or atom which has an unpaired electron in its outer orbit is known as a free radical. Free radicals are very unstable, highly reactive molecules. Normally free radicals are continually created in the millions in your physiology to carry on the metabolic activity of the body. They are essential to life, we need them, and they fight infection. Our cells give a burst of these free radicals to kill the germs when we become infected with bacteria, fungus, and parasites. Oxygen is what is known as a free radical; it is highly unstable. Oxygen is life saving but if you give 100% oxygen it is highly toxic. Why does oxygen become toxic? It is a molecule which consists of two atoms of oxygen, and when they are combined they balance each other out. But it is unstable, and if the two atoms are separated, they become two free radicals. But free radicals are not limited to oxygen. Any molecule, any atom in the body can become a free radical, and when it does it will try to balance itself by picking up an electron from the neighbouring molecule which in turn becomes a free radical and the vicious cycle continues until it is checked and controlled. If it is not controlled, damage occurs in different parts of the body.  Read more...

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Free Radicals in Biology and Medicine by Barry Halliwell and John Gutteridge


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