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NCI-funded study finds higher selenium levels associated with reduced risk of advanced prostate cancer
A study published in the May 5 2004 Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that men whose plasma selenium levels were high had a decreased risk of developing advanced prostate cancer. The authors of the study believe that this could indicate that higher selenium levels could slow the progression of prostate tumors.
Haojie Li, MD, PhD, of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and colleagues analyzed plasma samples obtained from 1,163 men who had enrolled in the Physicians' Health Study, 586 of whom were diagnosed with prostate cancer during the thirteen year follow up period. The Physicians' Health Study was a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial that enrolled 22,071 male physicians in 1982 to ascertain the effects of aspirin and beta-carotene on this population.
The research team discovered that plasma selenium levels were inversely associated with the risk of developing an advanced (but not localized) prostate cancer. High selenium levels were associated with a lower risk of developing all prostate cancers only in men whose PSA levels were greater than 4 nanograms per milliliter, and particularly for those whose PSA levels were 10 ng/mL or greater.
In an accompanying editorial, Scott M. Lippman, MD, of the University of Texas M D Anderson Cancer Center and colleagues wrote, “The new epidemiologic data on selenium from Li et al. continue to support the initial impressions of this agent’s tremendous potential as a prostate cancer preventive agent. The emerging laboratory data greatly strengthen the biologic plausibility for this optimism and for the ongoing randomized clinical selenium trials, which ultimately will be necessary to define the potentially complex risk-benefit profile of this promising preventive agent.” (editorial by Taylor PR, “Science peels the onion of selenium effects on prostate carcinogenesis,” JNCI vol 96 no 9 p 645-647.)
Prostate cancer overview
Besides laboratory testing, physical examination, and investigative procedures to rule out the presence of prostate cancer and other diseases, an action plan to prevent their development should be considered. These types of preventive measures are preemptive, or defensive, measures. The most apparent of these relates to what we eat and drink.
There is no doubt that what we put into our bodies relates to the health of our cells. It is obvious that food intake is associated with delights to our senses of sight, smell, and taste. However, on a survival level, food is the necessary fuel source for all the cells of the human body. The quality and quantity of the food, water, and air we put into our bodies clearly have serious ramifications.
Measures to prevent PC must be a routine part of the counsel that general practitioners and internists give their patients. Selenium intake of at least 200 mcg a day should be a consideration in the prevention of PC throughout the world. Low plasma selenium is associated with a four- to fivefold increased risk of PC. In addition, levels of plasma selenium also decrease with age, resulting in middle-aged to older men being at a higher risk for low selenium levels. Ideally, baseline levels of selenium should be obtained before beginning routine selenium supplementation. It would make sense to begin such a micronutrient and mineral assessment at age 25 and perhaps every 10 years thereafter.
A large-scale study of almost 11,000 men in Maryland showed that the protective effects of high selenium levels, and similarly that of the alpha-tocopherol isomer of vitamin E, were only observed when the concentrations of the gamma tocopherol isomer of vitamin E were also high.58 In this study, the risk of PC declined with increasing concentrations of alpha-tocopherol, with the highest concentration associated with a 68% PC risk reduction. For gamma-tocopherol, men with levels in the highest fifth of the distribution had a fivefold greater reduction in the risk of developing PC than men in the lowest fifth (p = .002). The observed interaction between alpha-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol, and selenium suggested that combined alpha- and gamma-tocopherol supplements, used in conjunction with selenium, should be considered in future PC prevention trials.
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The fact is most commercial vitamin E supplements do not contain the gamma form of the vitamin, depriving you of the full range of its antioxidant effects. The vitamin E you buy at the local pharmacy is mostly alpha-tocopherol.
The vitamin E fractions known as tocotrienols are showing positive effects on human and animal physiological and biological functions. It must be noted here that alpha-tocopherol is known to be an important antioxidant. But, when combined with other parts of the vitamin, the benefits are significantly enhanced.
Life Extension Magazine May 2004
A comprehensive guide to preventive blood testing
The reason most people consider blood testing is to ascertain their cardiovascular risk factors. The scientific literature clearly establishes that elevated insulin, glucose, homocysteine, fibrinogen, C-reactive protein, triglycerides, and LDL dramatically increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other arterial diseases. What most people fail to realize is that significant changes can occur over the course of one year, meaning that previous tests may not accurately reflect current cardiovascular risk status.
In addition to identifying proven cardiovascular disease risk factors, blood tests can detect numerous other medical abnormalities that are often easy to correct if caught in time.
For instance, a growing number of Americans are taking prescription drugs to treat chronic medical conditions. Many of these drugs have toxic side effects that result in the deaths of more than 100,000 Americans each year. In fact, according to the American Medical Association (AMA), adverse reactions to prescription drugs are between the fourth and sixth leading causes of death in the US.
The AMA emphasizes that these deaths are occurring, even though doctors who are supposed to closely monitor their patients are prescribing the drugs. The problem is that cost-conscious HMOs and hurried physicians are not ordering blood tests that would detect drug-induced liver and kidney impairment in time to prevent these side effects from occurring. If you are taking certain prescription medications, regular blood testing is mandatory according to the drug labeling, yet doctors routinely fail to prescribe the recommended blood tests and their patients succumb to a drug-induced hospitalization, disability, or death.
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