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Selenium supplements may help prevent cancer

A new study looking at the effect of selenium supplements on cancer has found a 50 per cent reduction in deaths from cancer in those taking supplements.

Researchers at the Arizona Cancer Center set out to test the effectiveness of selenium supplements on the prevention of skin cancer in over 1300 patients. Participants received a placebo or 200 mcg selenium per day over a period of 4.5 years and a total follow up of 6.4 years. While the results did not show any reduction in skin cancer risk, the selenium group had a 37 per cent reduction in cancer incidence and a 50 per cent reduction in cancer mortality. The effects appeared strongest for prostate (63 per cent lower risk), colorectal (58 per cent lower risk) and lung (53 per cent lower risk) cancers.

The researchers warn that these results require confirmation in other trials before public health recommendations can be made.

Journal of the American Medical Association: 1996: 276