This post refers to a claim made by Procydin in 2009, but only posted now for posterity.

This product claimed on its label: “Helps prevent your body from rusting away”

This is extremely misleading as there is no part of your body that can “rust”. When a metal is exposed to water and oxygen, a chemical reaction called  oxidation takes place which causes corrosion. When this takes place with iron, it results in a reddish-brown discolouration which may flake off and is known as rust.

Oxidation can also occur when a fruit such as apples or bananas are exposed to air, and they develop a brownish discolouration.

Inside the body “oxidation” is said to take place when a transfer of “free radicals” occurs. This is not the same thing as “rusting”. Normally the free radicals (another name for unstable electrons) attach themselves to any molecule nearby which is able to or needs to accept an extra electron to become stable. These molecules are known as “anti-oxidants” and many of them are produced by the body. The transfer of free radicals usually happens very quickly and they are neutralised within seconds.

However, even free radicals play an important role in health. They can make micro-organisms and tumour cells susceptible to being destroyed. They play a vital role in human reproduction in that free radicals are used in the chain reaction that leads to erection of the penis.

It is thought that too many free radicals may lead to certain diseases through a process known as “oxidative stress”. The apparently logical intervention so that these diseases can be prevented or treated, would be by taking “anti-oxidants” in the form of tablets or capsules. Most of the research done so far has not been able to prove that taking external antioxidants has any effect in preventing or treating the diseases thought to result from excessive free radicals. This is not surprising because there is no way of “guaranteeing” that the antioxidants that have been swallowed will be at the right place in the body at the right time! There’s also the possibility that being exposed to digestive juices neutralises the antioxidants before they are even absorbed into the body.

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