Antioxidants are substances that fight against ROS (reactive oxygen species) and protect the cells from their damaging effects. Production of ROS during cellular metabolism is balanced by their removal by antioxidants. Any condition leading to increased levels of ROS results in oxidative stress, which promotes a large number of human diseases, including cancer. Therefore antioxidants may be regarded as potential anticarcinogens, as they may slow down or prevent development of cancer by reducing oxidative stress. Fruits and vegetables are rich source of antioxidants. Moreover, a number of phytochemicals present in medicinal plants are known to possess antioxidant activity. Therefore the aim of the present study was to investigate antioxidant activity of the aqueous extract of nuts of the medicinal plant Semecarpus anacardium in AKR mouse liver during the development of lymphoma. Antioxidant action was monitored by the activities of antioxidant enzymes catalase, superoxide dismutase and glutathione transferase. The effect of S. anacardium was also studied by observing the activity of LDH (lactate dehydrogenase), an enzyme of anaerobic metabolism. LDH activity serves as a tumour marker. The activities of antioxidant enzymes decreased gradually as lymphoma developed in mouse. However, LDH activity increased progressively. Administration of the aqueous extract of S. anacardium to lymphoma-transplanted mouse led to an increase in the activities of antioxidant enzymes, whereas LDH activity decreased significantly, indicating a decrease in carcinogenesis. The aqueous extract was found to be more effective than doxorubicin, a classical anticarcinogenic drug, with respect to its action on antioxidant enzymes and LDH in the liver of mice with developing lymphomas.

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