This news item was created by students Stuart Allison, Jennifer Aufder Heide, Cherady Hawkins, Allison Hollenbeck, and Amanda Volk 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. Free radicals.

For each of the following questions, please refer to the following article:
By Thomas H. Maugh II, TIMES MEDICAL WRITER, Los Angeles Times.

Editorial Comments

As the baby-boomer generation approaches middle age and beyond, studies relating to the aging process and death are becoming increasingly popular. More members of society are expressing interest in extending life and improving the quality of it.

The discovery that free radicals are one of the causes of the aging process gives us clues to the nature of our own cellular machinery and how we can change ourselves to live a healthier life. Not surprisingly, the recommendation to cut caloric intake to decrease the amount of radicals meshes well with our common sense notions of what can be done to increase our general health. We know that eating to excess can lead to obesity, which can thereby lead to heart problems and an increased risk of stroke. Free radicals have been linked to these diseases also, because they have been found to cause tissue damage and mutations within our genetic code.

The other treatment recommended by the article to fend off aging is hormone replacement therapy. While estrogen seems to do wonders for women and is a commonplace treatment, men seem to have less options in this department. Through testosterone deficiency can lead to a number of health problems, it can go unidentified by older men as the decline is not as steep as the estrogen decline effect when used as a performance enhancing drug.

As we move into the twenty-first century, the study of free radicals will surely continue, bringing greater knowledge of their mechanisms of function and treatment. Bringing together the fundamentals of chemistry, biology, and physiology these studies will persistently strive for the answers of eternal youth.

Pertinent Text References
Chapter 4: The Study of Chemical Reactions. Free radicals.


Questions 1. Describe the initiation, propagation, and termination steps of an oxygen free radical reaction. Use a generic organic molecule.

Init: O2 -> 2 O radicals
Prop: O radical + organic molecule -> OH + organic radical
Organic radical + O2 -> Oragnic+O + O radical
Term: O radical + O radical -> O2
Organic radical + Organic radical -> stable organic molecule

Question 2. Many people now seem to think that adding anti-oxidants to ones diet can improve general health, ranging from an increase in life span to relief from arthritis. One known anti-oxidant is vitamin C. Look up the structure of this molecule on ChemFinder, and describe why it might be good at reducing radical concentrations in the body.

A: Vitamin C. Answers may vary... The Double bonded oxygen may become single bonded and bond to the radical species.

Question 3. What are some advantages to hormone replacement therapy in menopausal women? Do you think that HRT is a good idea?

A: Hormone replacement therapy is prescribed to relieve the short term discomforts of menopause as well as to manage the long term effects of diminished estrogen, such as osteoporosis, colon cancer, and the onset of heart disease.

Fun Links:
See Our Web Site Online!
An interview with the originator of the Free Radical Theory of Aging.
Free Radicals linked to Alzheimers.
Free Radicals and patients with severe head injuries.
Free Radicals in our lifestyle
The Oxygen Society.
The Oxygen Club of California