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Selenium and prostate cancer

I wouldn’t normally report on a study from a school of veterinary medicine (in this case, from Purdue University), but I came across a study of dogs that helps confirm the cancer fighting value of an essential nutrient that we’ve told you about in many e-Alerts and Members Alerts.

The canine is the only species that shares an unfortunate trait with humans: prostate cancer is common, occurs spontaneously, and is complicated by the aging process.

Knowing this, Purdue researchers tested the effects of a selenium-enriched diet on elderly beagle dogs, and then examined their prostate cells to determine age related DNA damage. Results showed that the dogs receiving selenium experienced significantly less damage to prostate cells.

In the e-Alert “Most Valuable Mineral” (12/4/02), I told you about a study that showed how selenium may activate an important tumor-suppressing gene that is mutated in a large majority of all cancers. In addition to prostate cancer, selenium may lower the risk of breast, colorectal and lung cancers.

Purdue scientists believe that their results with dogs indicate a promising possibility that an increased intake of selenium may provide protection from DNA damage to the prostate cells of older men.

Protein rich foods such as meats and fish contain good amounts of selenium. But the most potent dietary source of selenium is the Brazil nut. One ounce of Brazil nuts contains more than 800 mcg of selenium – well above the recommended daily intake of 50 mcg.

As I mentioned in the December e-Alert, too much selenium can be toxic, but that would require an intake of more than 2,500 mcg per day for an extended period of time. So while the chances of getting a dangerous dose are very slim, the chances of helping prevent and fight cancer with a generous daily intake of selenium appear to be very good.

To Your Good Health,

Jenny Thompson
Health Sciences Institute

“Selenium May Fight Prostate Damage / Supplementation May Reduce Prostate Cancer Risk” Jennifer Warner, WebMD Medical News, 2/4/03/2003