Update on cancer, MS, arthritis, and more

Just as I hit the send button on last week’s e-Alert, I came across the following news. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has announced the start of the largest prostate cancer prevention trial ever conducted. The study will determine if taking supplements of selenium and vitamin E (both separately and together) can protect men from prostate cancer.

The concept for the trial came after unexpected results from two other cancer trials. In one, selenium was tested to determine if it could prevent skin cancer. It didn’t, but prostate cancer was reduced by two-thirds. In the other trial, vitamin E was being tested as a preventive against lung cancer – which it didn’t do – but it did reduce the occurrence of prostate cancer by 40 percent.

As a result, the NCI and a network of researchers known as the Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG) are now searching for 32,400 willing participants over 55 (or over 50 in black males). The study will take 12 years to complete and will test the anticancer activity of 200 mcg of selenium and 400 IU of vitamin E. If you’re interested in taking part, you can find details at www.nih.gov.

According to Leslie Ford, M.D., associate director for clinical research in NCI’s Division of Cancer Prevention, “The only way to determine the real value of these supplements for prostate cancer is to do a large clinical trial focused specifically on this disease.” So that, in the words of Charles A. Coltman, Jr., M.D., chairman of SWOG and director of the San Antonio Cancer Institute in Texas, “when the study is finished, we will know for sure whether these supplements can prevent the disease.”

Twelve years is a long time to wait! While it’ll certainly be welcome to be able to quote the results of the “largest-ever, 12-year-long, clinical trial developed specifically for selenium and vitamin E on prostate cancer,” we already know that these two nutrients pack a powerful antioxidant punch and can fight other cancers. So why wait? Selenium and vitamin E are readily available wherever vitamin supplements are sold. HSI medical advisor Martin Milner, N.D., recommends the same dosages used in the study (200 mcg for Selenium; 400 IU for Vitamin E) for health maintenance. He adds that any high-quality multi-vitamin should give you the right amounts of both.