Selenium and Prostate Health

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Published: 06th October 2008
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Selenium is a powerful antioxidant which researchers have found to be particularly effective in supporting   healthy prostate functioning. It is an essential trace mineral that functions largely in the form of proteins, called selenoproteins, which act as enzymes. The antioxidant properties of selenoproteins assist the body in preventing cellular damage from free radicals.

 

Because it is a powerful antioxidant, selenium is thought to support the immune system, which is the body's primary defense mechanism against free radical driven health issues  Based on  early evidence from animal and epidemiological studies, it is theorized that selenium may provide valuable protective support to the prostate and help reduce the risk of many degenerative diseases.

 

Ground-breaking research is uncovering many potential benefits that Selenium offers us. The field of prostate cancer research is where some of the most dramatic and exciting studies are being done. The evidence gathered thus far is very impressive and highly suggestive that Selenium holds the promise that it may help reduce oxidative damage in the prostate and in various other organs in the body. But it must be pointed out that by FDA standards, the scientific studies cited below must be considered preliminary and inconclusive; and that more research still needs to be done. These valuable research studies are being provided solely for educational purposes.

 

Researchers at the University of Arizona have shown in preliminary studies that daily selenium supplements cut the rate of prostate cancer by more than half. Dr. Larry Clark, Ph.D., directs the selenium and cancer projects at the University of Arizona Cancer Center. A 10-year study showed the incidence of prostate cancer was 63 percent less among those taking daily selenium supplements. This study was reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association in December 1996 and it was the first evidence that showed that nutritional supplementation with selenium may reduce the incidence of prostate, lung and colon cancers. Clark points out that the same study showed selenium users had markedly less lung and colorectal cancer as well. More than a thousand men had volunteered for the trial.

 

Dr. Clark believes a specific type of protein within the prostate is very responsive to selenium intake. "This probably helps protect against oxidative damage there in the prostate."

 

In 1998 Harvard conducted a study of 33,737 men between the ages of 40 and 75. The researchers asked the volunteers to submit toenail clippings at the start of the study. The clippings were analyzed for selenium concentration, which reflects the selenium intake over the many months during which nails are formed. The scientists tracked the men for six years, and found that the men with the highest selenium levels at the start of the study had a 65% lower incidence of advanced prostate cancer than the men with the lowest levels, even after taking other prostate cancer risk factors into account.

 

Quite a few promising studies published in 2004 showed the potential benefits of selenium on prostate cancer. One particular epidemiological study published in May 2004 in the Journal of National Cancer Institute revealed that men with high blood levels of selenium were about half as likely to develop advanced prostate cancer as the men with lower blood selenium. More than 1000 healthy men participated in this study which was conducted over a long study period of over 13 years. The duration is significant because prostate cancer is a slow growing disease.

 

Natural Food Sources

This trace element enters the human diet through plants such as corn and through the meat of animals grazing on vegetation containing selenium. Grains (especially from the Great Plains), fish, organ meats and Brazil nuts tend to be high in selenium.

 

Dr. Larry Clark, University of Arizona Cancer Center remarks, "We've gone from knowing almost nothing about diet and prostate cancer to prostate cancer being the leading cancer that may be affected by diet, meaning we can do the most to prevent it if we find the right diet," Researchers widely agree that nutritional supplementation can support prostate health and in some cases, possibly even prevent prostate disorders.


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