Selenium for Prostate Cancer

General Information

Selenium is a trace mineral, which means that the human body only needs it in small quantities. It is an antioxidant, which increases the level of the enzyme (glutathione peroxidase) that helps block free radicals. It also works with vitamin E to prevent damage to the body. It may repair damaged cells or cause death in abnormal cells. As a result, tumor growth is delayed. In addition, selenium may reduce the levels of prostaglandins, which cause an inflammatory response in the body. Since this inflammatory response may stimulate cancer growth, selenium may be of benefit. Several foods contain selenium, including seafood, bran, wheat, barley, brown rice, soybeans, onion and garlic.

Food Sources of Selenium

Medical Research/Studies

Many human studies have demonstrated a relationship between higher intakes of selenium and reduced prostate cancer incidences. Consuming a diet including 100-200 micrograms of selenium has been shown to reduce a man's risk for prostate cancer. A trial by Clark and colleagues showed that men, with a history of basal and squamous cell carcinoma, taking a daily selenium supplement of 200 micrograms had a 63% reduction in prostate cancer risk. 200 micrograms of selenium is easy to get in healthy diet without a supplement.

Most of the studies on prostate cancer and selenium deal with prevention rather than treatment. Laboratory studies have shown that selenium suppresses prostate cancer cell growth in test tubes at varying concentrations. However, further research in this area must be done to assess the role of selenium in prostate cancer treatment. Currently, the National Cancer Institute is funding the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT), a clinical trial with over 32,000 male participants. SELECT is designed to help determine whether selenium and/or vitamin E are helpful for preventing prostate cancer.

Urology Center Recommendation

  • A selenium supplement is not recommended. You should get an adequate amount of selenium (100 - 200 micrograms) if you eat a healthy diet.

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