Selenium May Help Men Reduce Cancer Risk

MAY 01, 2007
Susan Farley

A recent study of the effects of selenium for reducing the risk of prostate cancer has shown that high selenium levels can be beneficial in certain subgroups of men. Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Wash, studied subjects involved with the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial. They compared prediagnosis blood samples from 724 men who later developed prostate cancer and a comparison group of 879 similar men who remained free of the disease.

Upon enrollment in the study, all participants answered a questionnaire about age, ethnicity, education, occupation, smoking history, cancer, and other diseases, as well as use of selected drugs and prostate-related health factors. Another questionnaire asked the men about their food intake in the 12 months prior to enrollment. Both groups were followed for 8 years. In general, no association was noted between serum selenium and reduced risk of prostate cancer.

According to the study results, however, a higher level of serum selenium was associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer in men who had a higher intake of vitamin E and multivitamin. Higher was defined as more than the average 28 international units per day. The subgroup of smokers also benefited from high selenium levels and their effect on reducing prostate cancer risk. The results appeared in the January 2007 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.