This news item was created by students Nathan Brinker, Brian Cook, Terry Luecker, Jessica Cuba, Laura Stanek and Megan Miller as part of their Chemistry 210 Semester Project in WS99 under the guidance of Prof. Rainer Glaser.

Glaser's "Chemistry is in the News"
To Accompany Wade Organic Chemistry 4/e.
Chapter 4. The Study of Chemical Reactions. Radical Chemistry.

For each of the following questions, please refer to the following article:

by Judy McBride, Agricultural Research Magazine, February 1999.

Editorial Comments

Have scientists finally found the fountain of youth? Actually, it has been in our kitchen and on our dinner plates the whole time. Studies at Tufts University confirm that eating fruits and vegetables with a high ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity) value might actually delay aging. ORAC measures the ability of a substance to reduce free radicals. Spinach, strawberries, and blueberries are examples of foods containing a high ORAC value.

It seems ironic that oxygen is required to sustain life and it ultimately ends up shortening our lives. As oxygen enters the body it metabolizes to form energy, during this process free radicals are formed. Oxygen free radicals are also created when the body's immune system fights off infections. Free radicals also enter the body from the environment. This leads to a high concentration of oxygen free radicals in the body. Once the free radicals are in the body they attack the membranes by poking holes in them and damaging the DNA. To view an oxygen free radical, click on ChemFinder. This leads to damage to the body and leads to: aging, cancer, Alzheimer's disease and heart attack (to name of a few of the ailments).

This is where antioxidants and foods with high ORAC values come into play. When a person eats food high in ORAC values the concentration of antioxidants increase in the blood. These antioxidants neutralize the free radicals by increasing the probability that the radical will go through a termination step, instead of continuing with the propagation of a mechanism. This will eventually lead to less free radicals in the body and therefore slow down its damage.

The use of free radicals to explain illness is a relatively new idea in the medical field. It was only forty years ago that Dr. Denham Harman, "The father of Free Radical Medicine", published a paper stating that free radicals are a major cause of aging and disease. This is an exciting discovery because it offers an entire new approach to looking at diseases.

Pertinent Text References
Chapter 4. The Study of Chemical Reactions
Section 4-3. The Free-Radical Chain Reaction


Question 1: Draw the Lewis structure of an oxygen free radical.

A. O-atom with 3 lone pairs.

Question 2: Of the foods mentioned in the article, which has the highest ORAC value?

A. Spinach had the highest value.

Question 3: List the three steps of a free radical mechanism. Which one of the steps occur when an oxygen radical binds with an antioxidant?

A. Initiation, Propagation, Termination.

Question 4: In Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity (ORAC), what major body tissues does it protect from free radicals? [Hint: Use library, textbooks, web ...]

A. Protects the beta-PE from being damaged by free radicals.

Question 5: The guidelines concerning the importance of diet presented in this article can easily benefit anyone. How would you go about getting this information to the less-educated general public? Should the government be involved?

A. Open ended, it is your own opinion.