Science on Saturday Night : How Oxygen Can Kill Us

Last Saturday, January 21st, 2017, first ever Science on Saturday Night in 2017 is held by STD of IAAS, the topic is how oxygen can kill us. To see what we disscuss about, you can read below.

Oxygen plays a vital role in the breathing processes and in the metabolism of the living organisms. Probably, the only living cells that do not need oxygen are some anaerobic bacteria that obtain energy from other metabolic processes. In the human body, the oxygen is absorbed by the blood stream in the lungs, being then transported to the cells where an elaborated change process takes place. The nutrient compounds, inside of the cell, are oxidized through complex enzymatic processes. This oxidation is the source of energy of most of the animals, mainly of mammals. The products are carbon dioxide and water, which are eliminated by the body through the lungs.


The Free Radicals produced by Oxygenic reactions in the body as unstable molecules “in search of stability.”  Due to this harried search for stability, most Free Radicals are highly reactive chaos-causers.  Sometimes this chaos can take the form of chain reactions that have been linked to cancer. During Respiration, a continual process that we take for granted, Oxygen is used by the body to begin a series of reactions.  During the course of this set of reactions, several Free Radicals can be formed :

  1. Super Oxyde Radical
  2. Hydrogen Peroxyde
  3. Hydroxyl Radical

Of the three, the Hydroxyl Radical is probably the most dangerous.  Lane calls it “a ferocious molecule that is among the most reactive substances known.”  Promiscuous to the Ninth degree, the Hydroxyl Radical will react with pretty much the first molecule it comes in contact with, usually staying single for only a few billionths of second.  Unfortunately for us, the Hydroxyl Radical is always looking for love in all the wrong places—in otherwise stable and productive components of our cellular metabolism. Hydrogen Peroxide and the SuperOxide Radical are less reactive, but they can become dangerous when they come in contact with metals in the body, especially Iron.  Therefore, says Lane, the body has to keep such reactive metals “well-caged” inside proteins. SuperOxide Radicals escape into the body in one or two out of a hundred Oxygen reactions inside of cells.hydroxyl-radical-from-radiation

Science on Saturday Night (4)-011

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