Showing posts with label selenium. Show all posts
Showing posts with label selenium. Show all posts

Friday, June 8, 2012

Selenium linked to lower diabetes risk

NEW YORK | Sat Jun 9, 2012 1:36am IST

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The chances of developing type 2 diabetes were as much as 24 percent lower among people with a diet rich in selenium than among those who consumed little of the mineral in a large new U.S. study.
The findings, published in the journal Diabetes Care, are based on 7,000 male and female health care professionals followed for decades. But they add to a mixed bag of evidence on the protective effects of selenium, a known antioxidant, when it comes to diabetes.

"I wouldn't suggest, based on the findings from this study, that people start taking selenium supplements," said Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, senior author of the new report, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

For one, he said, there are multiple different types of selenium, which may have different effects -- and supplements contain only a single type.

Antioxidants are thought to offer some protection against chronic diseases, including diabetes, and selenium has become a popular supplement in recent years for that reason. The mineral is also found naturally in foods like bread, meat and nuts.

In some places, it occurs in high concentrations in soil, affecting the direct exposure of people who live nearby and the selenium content of foods grown in the region.

To look at the long-term effect of selenium exposure on diabetes risk in otherwise healthy people, Mozaffarian and his colleagues analyzed toenail clippings from the 1980s.

A little over 7,000 women and men participating in the long-term Nurses' Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study had contributed the samples between 1982 and 1987 and answered extensive questionnaires about their diets, lifestyles and illnesses over the next two decades.
None had diabetes or heart disease at the beginning of the study. And just over 10 percent developed Type 2 diabetes in subsequent years (a rate that is likely to be lower than in the general population, according to the researchers, since the study participants were all health professionals).
Though questionnaires about diet rely on memory, which can be faulty, the accumulation of selenium in toenails accurately reflects exposure to the mineral over about a year's time.

For both men and women, the researchers found the risk of developing diabetes was 24 percent lower among people with the highest levels of selenium in their toenails, compared to those with the lowest levels.

Still, they emphasized that the study reinforces the need for a healthy diet, while discouraging the use of supplements to get more selenium. If anything, said Mozaffarian, people should be choosing healthy foods like whole grains and fish, which are rich in the mineral.

The Institute of Medicine, an advisory panel to the U.S. government, recommends most adults get 55 micrograms of selenium each day. One bagel contains about 27 micrograms, for example, and one egg 15 micrograms.

Selenium toxicity is rare, but health officials suggest an upper limit of 400 micrograms per day for adults to avoid side effects. High levels of selenium in the blood can lead to a condition called selenosis, with symptoms including stomach problems, hair loss and mild nerve damage.
"The difference between the beneficial effects and the harmful effects of selenium is very narrow," said Dr. Eliseo Guallar of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, who has studied the mineral's health effects but was not involved in the new study. "A little bit can be very good, but once you go above a certain level there can be side effects."

Selenium levels in the U.S. population are already quite high because of high selenium content of soils in some parts of the country, the study authors noted.
In addition, they haven't ruled out the possibility that high selenium levels in the study participants was a sign of other lifestyle factors that could partly explain their lower diabetes risk.
Participants with higher levels of selenium also ate more whole grains and consumed less saturated fat, coffee and alcohol and were less likely to be smokers than those with lower levels of the mineral.

SOURCE: Diabetes Care, online May 22, 2011.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Selenium for preventing cancer

Selenium for preventing cancer

Selenium is a trace element that is important for human health, but might also be harmful for humans when the taken in excess.
Fifty-five studies with more than one million participants were included in this systematic review. Forty-nine studies observed and analysed whether healthy people with high selenium levels in blood or toenail samples or with a high selenium intake developed cancer more or less often than other people. We found that people with higher selenium levels or intake had a lower frequency of certain cancers (such as bladder or prostate cancer) but no difference for other cancers such as breast cancer. However, it was not possible to determine from these studies that selenium levels or selenium intake were really the reason for the lower risk of cancer in some people. Factors apart from higher selenium levels could also influence the cancer risk: They might have had a healthier nutritional intake or lifestyle, have had a more favourable job or overall living conditions.
Six randomised controlled trials (RCTs) assessed whether the use of selenium supplements might prevent cancer. In general, there are two types of selenium supplements: one type uses the salt of selenium as main ingredient, the other type uses organic selenium. These two types may act differently in the human body when ingested. We assessed the quality of each trial according to four established methodological criteria. The trials with the most reliable results found that organic selenium did not prevent prostate cancer in men and increased the risk of non-melanoma skin cancer in women and men. Other trials found that participants using selenium salt or organic supplements had a decrease in liver cancer cases. However, due to methodological shortcomings this evidence was less convincing.

We advise further investigation of selenium for liver cancer prevention before translating results into public health recommendations. We also recommend that there should be further evaluation of the effects of selenium supplements in populations according to their nutritional status as they may differ between undernourished and adequately nourished groups of people.

To maintain or improve health, access to healthy food and a healthy diet is important. Currently, there is no convincing evidence that individuals, particularly those who are adequately nourished, will benefit from selenium supplementation with regard to their cancer risk.

Selenium is a trace element essential to humans. Higher selenium exposure and selenium supplements have been suggested to protect against several types of cancers.

Two research questions were addressed in this review: What is the evidence for
1. an aetiological relationship between selenium exposure and cancer risk in women and men?
2. the efficacy of selenium supplementation for cancer prevention in women and men?

Search strategy
We searched electronic databases and bibliographies of reviews and included publications.

Selection criteria
We included prospective observational studies to answer research question (a) and randomised controlled trials (RCTs) to answer research question (b).

Data collection and analysis
We conducted random effects meta-analyses of epidemiological data when five or more studies were retrieved for a specific outcome. We made a narrative summary of data from RCTs.

Main results
We included 49 prospective observational studies and six RCTs. In epidemiologic data, we found a reduced cancer incidence (summary odds ratio (OR) 0.69 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.53 to 0.91) and mortality (OR 0.55, 95% CI 0.36 to 0.83) with higher selenium exposure. Cancer risk was more pronouncedly reduced in men (incidence: OR 0.66, 95% CI 0.42 to 1.05) than in women (incidence: OR 0.90, 95% CI 0.45 to 1.77). These findings have potential limitations due to study design, quality and heterogeneity of the data, which complicated the interpretation of the summary statistics.
The RCTs found no protective efficacy of selenium yeast supplementation against non-melanoma skin cancer or L-selenomethionine supplementation against prostate cancer. Study results for the prevention of liver cancer with selenium supplements were inconsistent and studies had an unclear risk of bias. The results of the Nutritional Prevention of Cancer Trial (NPCT) and SELECT raised concerns about possible harmful effects of selenium supplements.

Authors' conclusions
No reliable conclusions can be drawn regarding a causal relationship between low selenium exposure and an increased risk of cancer. Despite evidence for an inverse association between selenium exposure and the risk of some types of cancer, these results should be interpreted with care due to the potential limiting factors of heterogeneity and influences of unknown biases, confounding and effect modification.
The effect of selenium supplementation from RCTs yielded inconsistent results. To date, there is no convincing evidence that selenium supplements can prevent cancer in men, women or children.

Also See;
'Cochrane in the News' archive
Irish Times series on the efficacy of herbal remedies frequently quotes Cochrane evidence
Thursday, June 9, 2011 - 10:59

Irish Times series on herbal remedies frequently quotes Cochrane evidence

"Does it work?", an online series by Dónal O'Mathúna in The Irish Times, explores the efficacy of herbal remedies frequently quoting Cochrane evidence, i.e. on ginko biloba (article, review), hawthorn (article, review) and vitamin B12 (article, review).