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Selenium May Help Slow Down Immune Over-Response of Certain Cancers

Certain cancer cells over stimulate the immune system and cause it to collapse. A recent study suggests that selenium may slow down the immune over-response caused by melanoma, prostate cancer, and specific strains of leukemia.

Functioning, cancer-free immune systems remove toxins and other dangerous foreign elements from the body. Cancer cells, however, have the ability to block the immune system’s recognition of them, which is how they’re able to grow and spread unchecked. Some cancer cells overexpress immunostimulatory molecules in liquid form which allows them to spread very rapidly and lead to a collapse of the immune system.

For this study, the researchers focused on molecules called NGK2D ligands, which present in eight different forms. The researchers looked specifically at one that assumes a liquid form because once it dissolves, it spreads the cancer extremely quickly in the blood stream. They found that selenium neutralized the molecules both when they were in soluble form and when they were on the cell surface.

The researchers hope that this discovery will contribute to the development of new cancer drugs with fewer side effects.

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on September 25, 2014, in The Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Selenium is an essential mineral that works as an antioxidant. Previous studies have shown that maintaining sufficient levels of selenium is important for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and immune dysfunction.

Selenium is also the only mineral the FDA has approved for a qualified health claim for general cancer reduction incidence.

Some foods rich in selenium are Brazil nuts, broccoli, mushrooms, garlic, sunflower seeds, walnuts, raisins, pork and fish.

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