Research: VINCETI and COLLEAGUES

Listed in Issue 268

Abstract

VINCETI and COLLEAGUES 1. Environmental, Genetic and Nutritional Epidemiology Research Center (CREAGEN), University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy; Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA, United States. Electronic address: marco.vinceti@unimore.it ; 2. Environmental, Genetic and Nutritional Epidemiology Research Center (CREAGEN), University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy; 3. Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, United States review the published literature regarding selenium supplementation and cancer risk.

Background

The relation between selenium and cancer has been one of the most hotly debated topics in human health over the last decades. Early observational studies reported an inverse relation between selenium exposure and cancer risk.

Methodology

Subsequently, randomized controlled trials showed that selenium supplementation does not reduce the risk of cancer and may even increase it for some types, including advanced prostate cancer and skin cancer. An increased risk of diabetes has also been reported.

Results

These findings have been consistent in the most methodologically sound trials, suggesting that the early observational studies were misleading. Other studies have investigated selenium compounds as adjuvant therapy for cancer. Though there is currently insufficient evidence regarding the utility and safety of selenium compounds for such treatments, this issue is worthy of further investigation.

Conclusion

The study of selenium and cancer is complicated by the existence of a diverse array of organic and inorganic selenium compounds, each with distinct biological properties, and this must be taken into consideration in the interpretation of both observational and experimental human studies.

References

Vinceti M1, Filippini T2, Cilloni S2, Crespi CM3. The Epidemiology of Selenium and Human Cancer. Adv Cancer Res.: 136:1-48. 2017.  DOI: 10.1016/bs.acr.2017.07.001 . Epub 12 Aug 2017.

Comment

The above review of the literature highlights the complexity of the published studies about selenium and cancer, as well as the “diverse array of organic and inorganic selenium compounds, each with distinct biological properties…. this must be taken into consideration in the interpretation of both observational and experimental human studies.”

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