One Mineral May Lower Prostate Cancer Risk

Prostate cancer risks lower in men with highest selenium levels

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Selenium is a trace mineral that helps prevent cell damage. Studies regarding this mineral have been inconclusive. But new research suggests selenium may have anti-cancer properties.

Men with the highest levels of selenium had a more than 60 percent decreased risk for advanced prostate cancer, according to a large Dutch study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2013.

"Have a conversation with your pharmacist about supplements."

Milan S. Geybels, MSc, a doctoral candidate in cancer epidemiology at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, and colleagues analyzed data on 900 men diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer.

The men were part of the Netherlands Cohort Study involving 58,279 men between the ages of 55 and 69 years at the time the study began in September 1986. Study members were followed for just over 17 years.

"Previous studies of dietary and supplemental selenium have inconsistently shown anti-cancer effects in reducing the risk of developing prostate cancer,” Brian D. Lawenda, MD, clinical director of Radiation Oncology at 21st Century Oncology in Las Vegas, told dailyRx News.

One study found that selenium has no protective effect, while several observational studies have shown that higher levels of the mineral were associated with decreased prostate cancer risks.

Geybels studied selenium levels in toenail samples, which reflect long-term exposure.

Researchers found that compared to men with the lowest levels, men with the highest toenail selenium levels had more than a 60 percent lower risk for advanced prostate cancer.

“This large cohort study adds more weight to the possibility that long-term selenium intake may reduce the risk of developing an aggressive form of prostate cancer," said Dr. Lawenda, who is an integrative oncologist and founder of the website IntegrativeOncology-Essentials.com

Brazil nuts have the highest amounts of naturally-occurring selenium. The mineral is found in small amounts in most all animal and plant foods.

“If our results can be confirmed, a prevention trial of selenium and prostate cancer in a low-selenium population may be justified,” the authors wrote.

All research is considered preliminary before being published in a peer-reviewed journal. No conflicts of interest were declared.

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Review Date: 
April 9, 2013
Last Updated:
April 9, 2013