No other element or compound comes close to selenium’s versatility of functions. My own research and that of other investigators—conducted on cells in animals and epidemiological studies—suggests that adequate selenium intake helps to reduce the risk of developing most major forms of cancer, including malignancies of the breast, lung, prostate, colon, rectum, stomach, ovary, pancreas, kidney, bladder, liver, skin and blood (leukemia).

Subsequent selenium supplementation trials in humans also found evidence of selenium’s cancer-protection effects. One of the best-known studies is the Nutritional Prevention of Cancer Trial, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and conducted from 1983 to 1996. It was intended to determine whether 200-microgram (meg) supplements of selenium could prevent the recurrence of skin cancer in 1,312 American adults, 75% of whom were men.

Although skin cancer recurrence rates were the same for both the placebo and selenium groups, the overall cancer mortality in the selenium group was reduced by 56%. Specifically, selenium reduced the incidence of prostate cancer by 64%, and of colorectal and lung cancer by 58% and 46%, respectively. Although the study involved mostly men, previous research suggests that selenium protects women from cancer, too.


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