In terms of preventing disease, there may be no more powerful a mineral than selenium. It’s an essential nutrient, found in every multivitamin and alone as a supplement in every health store or pharmacy. Scientists know of its powers, and consumers are starting to catch on as well.
Selenium is a powerful antioxidant, perhaps even stronger than vitamins E and C. For two decades or more, its potential in cancer prevention has been the subject of studies. Here, we look at a new study to add to the list.
According to results of a study in “Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention,” selenium intake is associated with decreased risk of bladder cancer. In all, they found a 39% reduced risk overall in those with the highest levels of selenium. The researchers found that the lower the levels of selenium, the higher the risk of developing bladder cancer.
Using data from seven previously published studies, researchers did what’s called a “meta-analysis” to evaluate selenium levels and the risk of developing bladder cancer. It was centered mostly on the United States, but also included some natives of Belgium, Finland and the Netherlands.
What they found, by looking at all the different studies, was that selenium had a significant protective effect against bladder cancer. It was more visible in women, which they believe may result from gender-specific differences in how selenium accumulates in the body.
It’s important to state that people should not run out and buy selenium supplements in bulk and take high levels by themselves. More studies will be needed, but for now, speak to your doctor about safe and optimal levels of selenium in your body. This study focused on bladder cancer, but the mineral’s tumor-protection goes well beyond that specific form of cancer.
Selenium is an essential micronutrient that is incorporated into about 25 proteins. Most of these are enzymes with antioxidant properties that prevent damage to cells by “free radicals,” which are natural by-products of the oxygen process in the body. Free radicals can “oxidize” cells that can lead to damage, hence the term “antioxidant.” Cancer begins in one place only: inside that human cell.
In your diet, you can find selenium in a ton of plant foods and in meat, as farmers now try to use selenium-rich soil. You can find selenium-enriched food products at your grocery store as well. This mineral is easily one of the biggest disease-blocking nutrients out there.