Low selenium levels linked to prostate cancer.




The Journal of Urology

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Consumer Data: Lycopene Prostate Cancer Selenium
Professional Data: Lycopene Prostate Cancer Selenium


Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men. It is primarily diagnosed in men over 65, although it may begin much earlier. It is a very slow growing form of cancer. Prostate cancer often metastasizes to other tissue, including the brain, lungs, lymph nodes, and bones. Early detection is critical in order to increase the chances for survival. Examinations are recommended routinely for all men over the age of 40. In 1998, the annual number of deaths from Prostate Cancer was 32,203.1

Prostate cancer may initially have no symptoms. Eventually there will be an increased number of trips to the restroom for urination, which are hurried and necessary. An increase in the number of trips to the restroom at night, difficulty in starting the urine stream and a decrease in the force of the urine stream will be experienced. The individual may experience fatigue, nausea, weakness, back pain, hip pain, and swollen lymph nodes. There will likely be discomfort in the area between the scrotum and the anus and eventual weight loss. Blood may be present in the urine.

Treatment of prostate cancer is determined by the stage of the disease. If the cancer is limited to the prostate, radical prostatectomy is usually performed, with or without radiation therapy. Hormonal therapy with estrogens may be used to suppress all andronergic activity in the prostate. Orchiectomy may be considered, as over 90 percent of testosterone originates in the testicles.

Many studies have examined the role of selenium supplementation in the risk reduction of prostate cancer, but a recent study researched the levels of selenium prior to diagnosis. The researchers wanted to determine the relationship between plasma selenium levels and risk of prostate cancer later in life. A total of 58 men diagnosed with prostate cancer and 96 that were free of prostatic disease were matched for age. The plasma selenium levels were measured at average interim times during the study in all men. The results were adjusted for age, smoking, and alcohol intake, among others. The outcome revealed that the higher the levels of selenium, the lower the risk for prostate cancer was. Also, plasma selenium levels decreased with age. The authors concluded that a low selenium level in the blood was associated with a 4 to 5 fold risk of prostate cancer. They suggested selenium supplementation may be advantageous in older men.2


1. National Vital Statistics Reports, Vol. 48, No. 11.
2. Brooks JD, Metter EJ. Plasma selenium level before diagnosis and the risk of prostate cancer development. The journal of Urology. Dec 2001;166:2034-2038.