Low Selenium May Be Related to Prostate Cancer Risk


New Zealand has one of the highest rates of prostate cancer compared to many other Western countries. We also have soil that is very low in selenium.


Low levels of the mineral selenium may mean a man has an increased risk of cancer.


Selenium is a trace mineral found in foods such as Brazil nuts and walnuts. It acts as an antioxidant, helping to neutralize byproducts of normal metabolism called free radicals, which can damage cells and contribute to cancer.


In a study*, researchers evaluated selenium levels in blood samples from 52 men with prostate cancer. These men had provided blood samples before they were diagnosed with prostate cancer and again after their diagnosis. This group was compared with 96 otherwise healthy men who had periodically had their blood selenium levels measured.


The researchers found that prostate cancer risk was significantly higher in the group of men with the lowest selenium blood levels, compared with the groups with higher levels.


Low selenium is associated with a four to five fold increase of prostate cancer and is a risk factor even after researchers took into account other factors such as age, smoking and alcohol use.


Most livestock in NZ is supplemented with selenium, how come no humans?


The best source of selenium from food is Brazil nuts – three a day will give you the required amount.


A number of our patients have taken part in a study at the Auckland University to see if there is a distinct link – will post results once available.


Stay Healthy

Glenn Twentyman


*The Journal of Urology December 2001;166:2034-2038


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