Selenium (Se) is a dietary trace element with anti-carcinogenic effects. Because of inadequate intake by many people, increasing the general Se intake would greatly reduce cancer risk. Se in the soil is taken up by plants grown in that soil. Plants grown in Se depleted soil will be low in Se. Cancer risk is lower in areas with high soil Se. Inorganic Se, selenomethionine, and sodium selenite all reduce tumor risk. Se yeast is a good source of Se.
Se binds to many other elements in the body, such as As, Cu, Ni, Co, Cr, Mn, Zn, Cd, Pb, Hg, etc. Even low body levels of As, Pb, Cd, Zn and Cr block the anti-cancer effect of Se because they make selenium unavailable to prevent cancer in the body.
Cigarette smoke contains increased amounts of Cd. Breast cancer is increased by Cd and Cr. Prostate cancer risk is increased by Cd. Bronchial cancer risk is increased by Cd, As, and Cr.
Se is part of the enzyme, glutathione peroxidase, which is important in the prevention of buildup of free radicals. Se deficiency alters gene expression, consistent with reduced detoxification and increased ‘carcinogenic stress.’
Men with high Se and vitamin E intake had a 42% reduced risk of prostate cancer. In a meta-analysis of prostate cancer, low Se levels were consistent with high frequency of prostate cancer. This is true for lung, colon, brain, and primary liver cancers. Breast cancer risk is lower in Japanese women on a traditional Japanese diet. (They eat three times as much Se as average Americans.)
“…breast cancer mortalities in the U.S.A. would significantly decline if the dietary Se intakes were increased to 200-300 mcg/day.” Schrauzer suggests reducing dietary fats and sugars and increasing seafood and cereals to increase Se levels.
CONCLUSION: Use of selenium (Se) supplements, eating a Japanese diet, and eating Se supplemented cereals, meats, eggs, and milk would reduce cancer risk for populations around the world. Se antagonists, such as Cd, must be avoided.
NOTE: Read a review of nutrient use in thyroid cancer. Read about selenium levels and a gluten-free diet. Read abou food components, such as selenium, which alter oral microbial disease. Read about selenium levels in relationship to demographic and lifestyle factors.
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