Research: RAY and co-authors,

Listed in Issue 134


RAY and co-authors, The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, MD, USA, have found that low selenium levels and low carotenoid levels predict deaths amongst older women.


Selenium and the carotenoids play an important role in antioxidant defenses and in the redox regulation involved in inflammation. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that low selenium and carotenoids predict mortality in older women living in the community.


Women who were enrolled in the Women’s Health and Aging Studies I and II in Baltimore, MD (n = 632; 70-79 y old) had serum selenium and carotenoids measured at baseline and were followed for mortality over 60 mo.


Median (minimum, maximum) serum selenium and carotenoids were 1.53 (0.73, 2.51) micromol/L and 1.67 (0.13, 9.10) micromol/L; 14.1% of the women died. The 5 major causes of death were heart disease (32.6%), cancer (18.0%), stroke (9.0%), infection (6.7%), and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (5.6%). Adjusting for age, education, smoking, body mass index, poor appetite, and chronic diseases, higher serum selenium [hazard ratio 0.71, p = 0.005] and higher serum total carotenoids (hazard ratio 0.77, p = 0.009) were associated with a lower risk of mortality.


Women who have higher serum selenium and carotenoids are at a lower risk of death.


Ray AL, Semba RD, Walston J, Ferrucci L, Cappola AR, Ricks MO, Xue QL, Fried LP. Low serum selenium and total carotenoids predict mortality among older women living in the community: the women’s health and aging studies. Journal of Nutrition 136 (1): 172-176, Jan 2006.


That higher levels of selenium and carotenoids are associated with lower mortality risk is a revealing and important result, which could have clinical results, if these antioxidant supplements were included in the diets of elder women.

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