Selenium May Slash Skin Cancer Risk
A study by Dutch and Australian researchers found that higher blood levels of selenium may significantly reduce the risk of skin cancer.
The findings were published in the April 2009 issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
Selenium is an antioxidant which is essential to good health. It is needed for proper thyroid function and may also have anti-aging effects. The main dietary source comes from plants, but levels of the mineral vary depending on how much is in the soil where the plants are grown.
The researchers recruited 485 Australian adults for the study and monitored them for 8 years.
The participants were divided into three groups based on their selenium levels and were then monitored for incidence of two types of cancer: basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).
The group with the highest average selenium levels (between 1.3 and 2.8 µmol/L) had a 57% reduction in the incidence of BCC, and a 64% reduction in the incidence of SCC compared to the group with the lowest average selenium levels (between 0.4 and 1.0 µmol/L).
This study illustrates one of the health benefits selenium provides. Previous research has shown that selenium may lower the risk of mental decline due to age, metabolic syndrome, certain cancers, and anemia. Selenium has also been shown to boost immune system function.
Increasing consumption of foods rich in selenium such as cereals, legumes, animal products and nuts (particularly Brazil nuts) is a good way to boost selenium intake. Taking a high quality selenium supplement is also effective.