Reduction of cancer mortality and incidence by selenium supplementation.


Combs GF Jr, Clark LC, Turnbull BW




Med Klin


PATIENTS AND METHOD: In order to test the hypothesis that a dietary supplement of selenium (Se) may reduce cancer risk, 1312 patients with histories of basa/squamous cell carcinomas of the skin were assigned in random, double-blind fashion to daily oral supplements of either Se-enriched yeast (200 micrograms Se/day), or a low-Se yeast placebo. Patients were recruited in 1983 to 1990 and were followed with regular dermatologic examinations through, 1993 for a total of 8269 person-years of observation. Skin cancer diagnoses were confirmed histologically and plasma Se concentration was determined at 6 to 12 months intervals. All deaths and patient-reported illnesses were confirmed and documented by consultation with the patient medical care providers. RESULTS: Results showed that Se-supplementation did not significantly affect the incidences of recurrent basal/squamous cell carcinomas of the skin. However, Se-treatment was associated with reductions in total cancer mortality and in the incidences of lung, colorectal, prostate and total cancers. These effects were consistent over time and between study clinics. CONCLUSION: The results strongly suggest benefits of Se-supplementation for this cohort of patients and support the hypothesis that supplemental Se can reduce risks to at least some types of cancer.