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Selenium Reduces Prostate Cancer Risk, Up to a Point

Selenium Periodic Table EntryConsuming selenium-rich foods, such as nuts, fish, and grains, may play a role in reducing the risk of prostate cancer, especially the aggressive form of this cancer, suggests a new review of the research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The research was funded by the World Cancer Research Fund as part of AICR/WCRF's Continuous Update Project (CUP), an ongoing review of cancer prevention research. It builds on the AICR/WCRF review of the literature, which concluded that consuming selenium – from both foods and supplements – links to lower risk of prostate cancer.

In the review, researchers analyzed the 12 population studies that looked at selenium intake, selenium levels and prostate cancer incidence. Nine of the studies measured participants’ blood (plasma and serum) concentrations of selenium and three measured it in their toenails. Nails are considered a reliable long-term marker of how much selenium a person has in his tissue.

Overall, risk of prostate cancer decreased for increasing levels of selenium, up to a point. Among measured selenium blood levels, for example, risk decreased up to 170 ng/ml. There was a greater reduction in risk for advanced prostate cancers.

The mineral selenium is found in soil, and most people throughout the world get selenium through eating plant foods. In general, national health surveys indicate that Americans consume recommended amounts of selenium, according to the NIH.

Source: Hurst R et al. “Selenium and prostate cancer: systematic review and meta-analysis.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 May 30.

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