One of the most powerful ways to fight cancer isn’t with a fancy drug, but with the nutrient selenium. These are findings I first reported on over a decade ago—but I know some of you weren’t with me then, so they definitely bear repeating.
In the Journal of the American Medical Association, researcher Larry Clark, PhD, presented convincing evidence that supplemental selenium could reduce cancer death rates by as much as 50 percent!
From 1983 through 1991, 1,312 patients who had had either squamous cell or basal cell carcinomas of the skin were given a placebo or 200 mcg of high-selenium yeast daily. Those taking selenium experienced a 67 percent increase in blood selenium to a level of 190 ng/ml, which remained more or less constant throughout the test.
Interestingly, skin cancers, which the study was initially designed to evaluate, showed little response to selenium. But the selenium group had a 63 percent reduction in the incidence of prostate cancer, a 58 percent reduction in colon or rectal cancer, and a 45 percent reduction in lung cancer.
The results of this study are remarkable. Even if the reduction in death rate was only half as good, nearly 100,000 lives a year would be saved just from taking a safe, inexpensive nutritional supplement.
Selenium helps to protect against cancer on three levels:
1. Its antioxidant properties generate glutathione, which mops up hydrogen peroxide, a potent free radical produced in your body by normal metabolic processes.
2. It facilitates quick repair of free-radical damage to the DNA molecule. Our current understanding of cancer is that a damaged DNA molecule replicates, carrying with it a “spark” that ignites the growth of tumors. If adequate selenium is present, the DNA molecule is repaired and normal cellular function returns.
3. It initiates apoptosis, or cell death, in cancerous and precancerous cells. Cancer cells divide rapidly and die early. Selenium appears to cause them to die before they replicate, short-circuiting malignancy and tumor growth. Selenium is found in some, but not all, multivitamin/mineral products.
If your multivitamin does not contain selenium, you should supplement with 200 mcg a day.
Now it’s your turn: Do you take selenium?