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Selenium Protects Against Prostate Cancer

Selenium Protects Against Prostate Cancer

Article by Don Goldberg

Selenium Protects Against Prostate Cancer, New Study Suggests 

New data from 51,529 men in the recent Health Professionals Follow-Up Study support the conclusion of a 1996 clinical trial that showed selenium provides major protection against prostate cancer. Dr. Kazuko Yoshizawa and colleagues from the Harvard University School of Public Health evaluated long-term selenium intakes by determining selenium concentrations in toenail clippings. The current study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI) on August 19, indicated that men in the highest 20 percent of selenium concentrations had a prostate cancer rate of only 35 percent of that of men with the lowest selenium concentrations. 

In the highest 20 percent of selenium concentrations, selenium intakes were 159 micrograms (mcg) per day, compared with 86 mcg in the lowest 20 percent. The increased prostate cancer risk among men with lower intakes contrasts with the current selenium Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of 70 mcg per day for adult men, indicating that level is clearly insufficient for protection against this deadly, chronic disease. In this study, the highest level of protection was associated with an intake 2.3 times the RDA. 

In an accompanying editorial in the August 19 JNCI, Drs. Philip Taylor and Demetrius Albanes conclude that the final answer to selenium and prostate cancer “may be as close as one randomized trial away.” 

“A clinical trial takes most of a decade to plan and complete,” said Dr. John Hathcock, CRN’s Director of Nutritional and Regulatory Science. “The amount of selenium shown to be protective is far below levels that have shown any toxicity, and it is time for many individuals to use selenium supplements and for health professionals to recommend it for protection against prostate cancer.” 

The 1996 clinical trial by Dr. Larry Clark and colleagues showed maximum protection against prostate cancer with a 200 mcg supplement per day. That trial was conducted in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized manner to give clear and unequivocal indication of the cause-and-effect relationship between higher selenium intake and lowered cancer risk. The researchers also found dramatically lowered rates of colon and lung cancers. 

For 25 years, the Council for Responsible Nutrition has promoted sound science in ensuring consumer access to dietary supplements. CRN and its 100 member companies are dedicated to enhancing public health through responsible nutrition, including the appropriate use of dietary supplements. For more information on the Council and its objectives, visit its website at 
Council For Responsible Nutrition
1875 Eye Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006-5409. 
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