Selenium Lowers Prostate Cancer Risk
Men with higher blood levels of selenium have a lower risk of developing advanced prostate cancer, according to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (2004;96:696–703). This is good news for the millions of men who undergo aggressive treatment for advanced prostate cancer.
The most common cancer in men over age 50, more than 200,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States. The cause of prostate cancer, like many other cancers, is unknown. Prostate cancer is generally slow-growing and may not cause any symptoms until late in the disease. Symptoms may include frequent or painful urination, dribbling after urination, sensation of incomplete emptying of the bladder, or blood in the urine. The symptoms of prostate cancer are similar to those of a noncancerous condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia, so men experiencing these symptoms should consult their physician for an accurate diagnosis.
In the study, 1,163 men between ages 40 and 84 who participated in the Physicians’ Health Study (a study originally done to evaluate the effects of aspirin and beta-carotene in preventing heart disease and cancer) completed health questionnaires initially and then periodically for 13 years. Baseline blood levels of selenium and prostate-specific antigen (PSA; a blood marker used to monitor enlargement of the prostate or prostate cancer) were gathered from all participants.
Among men with high PSA levels, those who had the highest blood concentrations of selenium had a significantly decreased risk of developing advanced prostate cancer compared with men with the lowest selenium levels. However, no protective effect of selenium was seen among men who had low PSA levels. Men with higher selenium levels also had no significant decrease in their risk of developing localized prostate cancer. These findings suggest the benefits of selenium may only apply to more aggressive forms of prostate cancer.
Darin Ingels, ND, MT (ASCP), received his bachelor’s degree from Purdue University and his Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA. Dr. Ingels is the author of The Natural Pharmacist: Lowering Cholesterol (Prima, 1999) and Natural Treatments for High Cholesterol (Prima, 2000). He currently is in private practice at New England Family Health Associates located in Southport, CT, where he specializes in environmental medicine and allergies. Dr. Ingels is a regular contributor to Healthnotes and Healthnotes Newswire.
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