The Selenium Cancer Link

From my research, I have begun to realize that selenium is possibly the most powerful anticancer nutrient there is. I am certainly not alone in singing the praises of selenium. Dr. E. J. Crary states, “Selenium is the most potent broad-spectrum anticarcinogenic agent that has yet been discovered.” That’s right. The trace mineral, selenium, has been shown in multiple studies to be an effective tool in warding off various types of cancer, including breast, esophageal, stomach, prostate, liver, and bladder cancers. The scientific and medical literature is filled with studies that demonstrate selenium’s anticancer effects in humans. For example, in an epidemiological study, Dr. Raymond Shamberger categorized the states and cities in the USA according to whether there was high, medium, or low selenium availability in the diet. He demonstrated an inverse association between selenium availability and age-adjusted mortality for all types of cancer. To put it simply, the more selenium available, the lower the levels of cancer.
In a worldwide study Dr. Gerhard Schrauzer, M.D., Ph.D. (professor of medical chemistry at the University of California at San Diego) analyzed the blood-bank data from 27 counties around the world. He compiled a list in order of their blood selenium levels disclosing an inverse proportional relationship to cancer incidence, reporting specifically that areas with low levels of selenium in the diet had higher levels of leukemia and cancers of the breast, colon, rectum, prostate, ovary, and lung. In other words, the number one nation in blood selenium level (Japan) had the lowest cancer level (and consistently has rated highest in longevity) while the number two selenium level nation had the second lowest cancer rate, etc. etc.
Selenium was initially used in conventional medicine as a treatment for dandruff, but our comprehension of the mineral has dramatically increased over the past 20 years. It is an essential component of a powerful antioxidant manufactured by the body. This antioxidant, called glutathione peroxidase, defends specifically against peroxides, a type of free radical that attacks fats. Like other antioxidants, glutathione peroxidase also reduces the risk of developing cancer and heart diseases and stimulates the immune system’s response to infections. This important enzyme is selenium dependent, with each molecule of the enzyme containing four atoms of selenium. Research shows selenium (especially when used in conjunction with vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene) works to block many chemical reactions that crate free radicals in the body. Remember, free radicals can damage our cellular DNA, which eventually can lead to degenerative disease like cancer. Selenium also helps to prevent damaged DNA molecules from reproducing and proliferating. A process called mitosis. In other words, selenium acts to prevent tumors from developing.
“It contributes towards the death of cancerous and pre-cancer cells. Their death appears to occur before they replicate, thus helping stop cancer before it gets started,” according to the late Dr. James Howenstine in A Physician’s Guide to Natural Health Products That Work. Selenium research over the past 20 years has focused heavily on a novel form of selenium: methylselenocysteine (MSC). A relatively simple organic selenium compound, MSC is formed naturally in various plants, including garlic, broccoli, wild leeks, and onions grown on high selenium soil. MSC is easily converted to methylselenol by an enzyme called beta-lyase, which is widely distributed in the body.
According to Dr. Daniel Medina (Baylor College of Medicine Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology) methylselenol has been shown to be an effective anti-cancer form of selenium that kills cancer cells through apoptosis, which is programmed cell death. (“Semethylselenocysteine: A new compound for chemoprevention of breast cancer,” Nutrition & Cancer 2001, 40:12-17) Methylselenol is also known to inhibit angiogenesis (creation of new blood vessels) in beginning cancer tumors and represents the safest and most effective anti-cancer form of selenium available today. One of the most important blind studies on selenium and cancer was a double-blind intervention trial conducted by Dr. L.C. Clark (and colleagues) at the University of Arizona Cancer Center. When all the results were tabulated, it became clear that the selenium-treated group developed almost 66% fewer prostate cancers, 50% fewer colorectal cancer, and about 40% fewer lung cancer as compared with the placebo group.
The old expression is “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” It would take almost 100 years at almost 800 mcg daily of selenium to consume a pound. Only 200 mcg daily supplementation of selenium has been documented to dramatically reduce cancer incidence, when in a grown, food-formed variety. A daily intake of 400 mcg was recommended by Dr. Schrauzer, mentioned earlier in this article. A daily intake of 600 mcg has been documented for residents of Japan on a traditional Japanese diet where cancer incidence is lowest and longevity is the greatest in the world. If every man, woman, and child supplemented with 200 mcg of selenium, we could almost wipe out the cancer epidemic over night! There is no downside to selenium supplementation, except perhaps to Big Pharma and the Medical Mafia, as this would definitely cut into their revenue stream. By Ty Bollinger

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