Chemistry Professor Warns About the Dangers of Antioxidants

Uploaded by CalStateNorthridge on 14.03.2011

ANNOUNCER: You're watching KCAL 9 News at Noon.
ANCHORMAN: Our guest today says throw everything you've ever heard or read about
the benefits of antioxidants, supplements and certain cosmetics out the window.
ANCHORWOMAN: Yeah don't think like that. A professor of chemistry at CSUN has written a book.
It's called "Guilty Until Proven Innocent." He joins us now.
He's going to talk about his book and his theories.
So we welcome Gagik Melikyan. Welcome, Professor.
ANCHORWOMAN: Hi. Thanks. So I was just a little bit surprised because all we've heard
is that everything, all these supplements that we're supposed to be taking,
are good for us, and you say, maybe not so fast.
PROFESSOR: Well, the problem is that if we look at the antioxidants which are identified
in green tea, black tea, and also in red wine, and a number of compounds
which are isolated from plants, all of them belong to a family of organic compounds,
which are called polyphenols. Polyphenols these days are like a household name.
You turn on the TV, polyphenols.
While driving, you're listening to the radio, polyphenols, polyphenols.
Now the problem is that polyphenols by their very nature are like Trojan horses.
Because under certain conditions, if you test them, they can show antioxidant properties
which is good for the body, and under different conditions, they can act as a pro-oxidant.
The problem is that the general public hear the first part,
and they don't hear the second part.
The reason I decided to write this book four years ago is to share my knowledge
which is based on 37 years of professional experience
working in the field of radical chemistry, and organic and medicinal chemistry,
and the book is written for the general public.
It's also written for the professional because it has a large number of references.
This book is written for the general public and for the layperson, so that
people with minimal or no scientific background can read and can understand it.
ANCHORMAN: And what determines what characteristics the polyphenols are going to take on?
PROFESSOR: Well, the setting itself.
The problem is that all the tests of antioxidants are done in test tubes.
Now the translational value for these tests is not high.
This means that based on that experience, we cannot advise the general public
to take those compounds which are shown or demonstrated
or exhibited antioxidant properties to put them inside the body
because inside the body there are certain enzymes,
a large number of them, which can chemically modify these compounds.
The problem is that even ten years ago we didn't have this knowledge.
Even ten years ago, thousands of women were put on hormone replacement therapy.
Even ten years ago, we didn't know that the high concentration of female hormone
can cause breast cancer and other problems, other crippling diseases. Now we know.
And antioxidants belong to the same family of phenols as the female hormone.
ANCHORMAN: So just because it's natural for us, green tea, red wine, things like that,
it might not necessarily be good for us.
PROFESSOR: Well the problem is that the public is obsessed with the very concept of naturalness.
And a separate chapter in the book is about naturalness.
This is that perception that I would like to change by writing this book.
That natural compound doesn't automatically mean
that the compound is beneficial or the compound is benign.
Natural compounds can kill people the same way as any bad synthetic compound,
which is synthesized in the laboratory.
And I hope that with this book, I'm just contributing to this understanding.
And people who have attended my public presentations--I have made,
five, six public presentations already in the LA area and more are planned--
and people who've bought this book, which is available on Amazon by the way,
they admit that reading this book becomes like an eye-opening,
life-changing experience, because they don't hear this from any other source.
ANCHORMAN: I guess Hemlock and poison ivy are natural, too, aren't they?
PROFESSOR: This is the thing, and during my presentation sometimes I say look at snake venom.
Snake venom looks very good. It's a nice light yellow compound,
but in fact it kills so fast. It's still natural.
ANCHORMAN: What is your concern about something like sunscreen?
What does that have in it that I should be concerned about?
PROFESSOR: This is a completely different issue, and there are several issues over here.
First of all, the public perception is that if we are applying what is called "topical,"
so this is a topical application, most probably it doesn't go inside the body.
And we can see it again and again when we go to the beach, right?
To enjoy nice California weather, people are arriving, families.
As soon as they arrive, they cover themselves, parents and also their kids,
liberally with huge amounts of sunscreen.
On many occasions I just couldn't see that.
I approach people and ask them, do you realize that these grand quantities
of compounds that you're applying on your skin goes inside your body?
And people didn't realize that this is in fact the same
as taking pills or taking food or drinking beverages.
Another problem is that, I have to say I don't understand
this obsession for many to become darker than they are.
Because sometimes people spend hours and hours on the beach or lying by the pool,
and they become much darker.
Sometimes they go back, and their pets cannot recognize them.
This is the thing. The public, if they read the book, will understand
that there is a very high price to pay.
Because they are doing the chemical reactions
all over the body just to become a little bit darker.
ANCHORWOMAN: A lot to think about. Thank you so much for joining us.
PROFESSOR: My pleasure.
ANCHORWOMAN: Thank you. If you want more information about Professor Melikyan's
eye-opening advice, just visit our website. It's You can click, "Seen on TV."
ANCHORMAN: Very interesting. I'm going to read this book.
PROFESSOR: Thank you so much. Shall I leave? Yeah.
ANCHORMAN: The rain has moved out. We're making way for some sunshine...(trails off)