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Originally published October 2 2009

Trace mineral selenium helps prevent cancer

by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor

(NaturalNews) The CSPI is reportedly suing Bayer over the company's claims that the selenium in its "One-A-Day" multivitamin formula helps prevent prostate cancer ( It's rare to see NaturalNews actually siding with Bayer on anything, but in this case, I think it's worth pointing out that selenium is, indeed, a very helpful nutrient for preventing cancer (see below).

While I personally don't consume or recommend anything from Bayer (and certainly not their multivitamin formula), I think it's important to bring you these quotes about the anti-cancer properties of selenium, a trace mineral lacking in the diets of many. (By the way, one of the top sources for organic selenium is Brazil Nuts.)

Selenium helps prevent cancer

Selenium inhibits cancer growth in animals. Low soil levels of selenium (probably associated with low dietary intake), have been associated with increased cancer incidence in humans. Blood levels of selenium have been reported to be low in patients with many cancers, including lung cancer. In preliminary reports, people with the lowest blood levels of selenium had between 3.8 and 5.8 times the risk of dying from cancer compared with those who had the highest selenium levels.
- The Natural Pharmacy: Complete A-Z Reference to Natural Treatments for Common Health Conditions by Alan R. Gaby, M.D., Jonathan V. Wright, M.D., Forrest Batz, Pharm.D. Rick Chester, RPh., N.D., DipLAc. George Constantine, R.Ph., Ph.D. Linnea D. Thompson, Pharm.D., N.D.

Larry Clark presented evidence that supplemental selenium could reduce cancer death rates by as much as 50%. 1,312 patients were given 200 mcg. of selenium daily. The patients receiving selenium had a rise of 67% in their blood selenium level. The patients receiving selenium had a 67% decrease in cancer of the prostate, a 58 percent decrease in colon or rectal cancer and a 45% decrease in lung cancer. This suggests that possibly up to 100,000 lives a year might be saved in the USA by the simple addition of selenium to the diet. Why Does This Happen?
- A Physician's Guide To Natural Health Products That Work by James A. Howenstine, MD

Selenium is needed by important immune system cells known as T cells. Selenium helps the T cells produce cytokines, which are used as messengers between and inside the cells. Adequate selenium may be needed to increase resistance to HIV infection. Selenium is also needed by white blood cells to fight microorganisms. Low dietary intakes of selenium may make people more vulnerable to Keshan disease. Keshan disease can cause heart problems. Excesses of selenium create methylated selenium in the body.
- Vitamins and Minerals Demystified by Dr. Steve Blake

Taking 200 micrograms of selenium daily for about seven years reduced the occurrence of all cancers in a group of 1,300 older people by 42 percent and cancer deaths by nearly 50 percent compared with those on a sugar pill or placebo. Selenium had the greatest impact on prostate cancer, slashing occurrence by 69 percent. Selenium also decreased rates of colorectal cancer 64 percent and lung cancer 39 percent.
- Miracle Cures: Dramatic New Scientific Discoveries Revealing the Healing Powers of Herbs, Vitamins, and Other Natural Remedies by Jean Carper

Recent large scale studies in Linxian, China found reduced risk of cancer when selenium supplements were given to those living in selenium-deficient areas. Other studies have shown that selenium supplements protect against some types of cancer such as rectal, ovarian, colon, lung and cervical cancers. However, there are also studies, including the Harvard Nurses Health Study which do not show a protective role for selenium against cancers at any major site. Laboratory studies have shown that selenium can slow tumor cell growth.
- The New Encyclopedia of Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements and Herbs by Nicola Reavley

People with AIDS tend to have low levels of selenium. That shortage puts a stress on the immune system, because selenium is needed to avoid oxidative stress. Selenium should be taken with other major antioxidants to optimize immune function. Several studies have shown that low levels of selenium are associated with an increased risk of cancer. This is especially true for stomach, esophageal, colon, rectal, and prostate cancers. Interestingly, garlic, onions, broccoli, and whole grains are recommended to prevent cancer, and all of them are good sources of selenium.
- The Natural Physician's Healing Therapies by Mark Stengler, N.D.

Selenium has been studied to determine its role in both the causation and the prevention of cancer. The epidemiological evidence is derived from a few geographical correlation studies, which have shown that the risk of cancer is inversely related to estimates of per capita selenium intake, selenium levels in blood specimens, or selenium concentrations in water supplies. It is not clear whether this relationship applies to all types of cancer or only to cancer at specific sites such as the gastrointestinal tract.
- Diet, Nutrition and Cancer by Committee on Diet, Nutrition, and Cancer, Assembly of Life Sciences National Research Council

Patients with malignant neoplasms had low selenium levels, whereas healthy controls and those with precancerous lesions both had higher selenium levels. These results suggest the need for longer treatment periods with selenium. Steady supplementation with selenium-enriched yeast may have allowed for a more rapid increase in maintenance of higher selenium levels. I conclude that these are encouraging results demonstrating the effect of selenium therapy in the treatment of precancerous dysplastic lesions of the oral cavity.
- Herbal Medicine, Healing and Cancer: A Comprehensive Program for Prevention and Treatment by Donald R. Yance, Jr., C.N., M.H., A.H.G., with Arlene Valentine

Although most people get enough selenium from their diet, the soils in some areas of the country are low in this mineral. Evidence suggests that selenium supplements may protect against some forms of cancer. What is the Scientific Evidence for Selenium? Selenium in supplement form has been associated with a lower risk of cancers of the prostate, colorectal, and lung, as well as a substantial reduction in cancer deaths. Dietary sources of selenium are associated with a lower risk for cancers of the esophagus and stomach.
- The Natural Pharmacist: Your Complete Guide to Reducing Cancer Risk by Richard Harkness

In areas of China with high rates of hepatitis B and primary liver cancer, epidemiological surveys demonstrated that high levels of dietary selenium reduce liver cancer incidence and hepatitis B infection. Animal studies showed that selenium supplementation reduced hepatitis B infection by 77.2% and precancerous liver lesions by 75.8% (Yu et al. 1997). In an 8-year follow-up trial in 130,471 Chinese, those who were given a selenium-spiked table salt showed a 35.1% reduction in primary liver cancer, compared with the group given salt without the added selenium.
- Disease Prevention and Treatment by The Life Extension Editorial Staff

We know that when animals are given foods with selenium compounds added to them and then given a chemical that causes colon cancer, there are fewer polyps and pre-cancerous cells in the selenium-fed animals. Adults with low blood plasma selenium levels are 3-4 times more likely to develop one or more adenomatous polyps. Vitamin C appears to work synergistically with selenium in this regard.
- You Don't Have to be Afraid of Cancer Anymore by Bill Sardi

Selenium, an essential trace mineral and vital antioxidant, works synergistically with vitamin E. One study concludes that supplemental beta-carotene and selenium enhanced immune function in a healthy elderly group. Dozens of animal and in vitro studies point to selenium in the prevention and treatment of cancer. A review article cites many epidemiological studies showing a significant inverse relationship between selenium intake and human cancer risk. Most recently, research has proven a role for selenium in the prevention of colon cancer.
- Gary Null's Power Aging by Gary Null

Several studies have shown that selenium possesses definite anticancer characteristics. Some suspect that among other things, selenium helps out by slowing down cancer at its very earliest stages, permitting cells to heal themselves before they are taken over by the cancer process. In any event, several highly respected researchers have repeatedly shown that when laboratory animals are injected with cancer cells, supplementing their diet with a little extra selenium substantially lowers the subsequent tumor rate.
- The Practical Encyclopedia of Natural Healing by Mark Bricklin

Epidemiological studies suggest that the risk of cancer is reduced in areas where the soil is high in selenium. Blood samples taken from large groups of people also show that they are more likely to develop cancer if they have low blood levels of selenium and the antioxidant selenium-containing enzyme, glutathione peroxidase. Low serum, dietary and soil selenium levels are particularly associated with lung, gastrointestinal tract and prostate cancers. Selenium may be most effective when combined with vitamin E.
- The New Encyclopedia of Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements and Herbs by Nicola Reavley

Cancer rates drop as selenium is added to the diet. Selenium stops all phases of the cancer cascade. Selenium stops initiation by increasing adaptability at the cellular and humoral levels, protecting the DNA from disruption by chemical carcinogens, and by stopping viral oncogenesis. Selenium disrupts cancer promotion by working as an antioxidant, an enzyme nourisher, and an immune system strengthener. In addition, selenium has been shown to depress the growth rate of established tumors. Organically grown foods have much more selenium than foods raised with chemical fertilizers.
- Breast Cancer? Breast Health! The Wise Woman Way by Susun S. Weed

Selenium has also induced "apoptosis" (programmed cell death) in cancer cells. A recent double-blind study following over 1,300 people found that those given 200 mcg of yeast-based selenium per day for 7 years had a 50% drop in the cancer death rate compared with the placebo group. Another recent trial found that men exposed to the most dietary selenium (as indirectly measured by toenail selenium levels) developed 65% less advanced prostate cancer than did men with the lowest levels of selenium. Selenium is also essential for healthy immune functioning.
- The Natural Pharmacy: Complete Home Reference to Natural Medicine by Schuyler W. Lininger, Jr. DC

To lower the risk of developing liver cancer, take 150 micrograms of selenium (any form except selenomethionine) daily on an ongoing basis. A clinical trial in China involving over 100,000 people found that taking supplemental selenium reduced the rate of liver cancer by 35 percent over an eight-year period. When the selenium supplement was discontinued, liver cancer rates began to rise again. Selenium is especially helpful for people infected with hepatitis B. Smoking, drinking, and inadequate vitamin A intake increase the risk of liver cancer in people infected with hepatitis B.
- Prescription for Herbal Healing: An Easy-to-Use A-Z Reference to Hundreds of Common Disorders and Their Herbal Remedies by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC

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