February 24, 2014 — Men who use selenium or vitamin E supplements may double their risk of aggressive prostate cancer, especially if they already have high concentrations of selenium in their body, according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
“Men should avoid selenium or vitamin E supplementation at doses that exceed recommended dietary intakes.”
The lead author on the study, Dr. Alan Kristal, stated: “As humans, we evolved with the levels of micronutrients you’d normally get with food. There’s no benefit to taking high doses of these micronutrients. There’s only risk.”
Conclusions were based on data from more than 35,000 American men over 55 who are participating in the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT), which began in 2001 and is evaluating the effects of supplements on prostate cancer.
During the trial, men took 200 micrograms of selenium and 400 IU of vitamin E daily. In comparison, the recommended dietary intake for selenium is 55 micrograms, and vitamin E is 22 IU. The trial was designed for 12 years, but was stopped prematurely in 2008 because selenium and Vitamin E offered no protective effects. Researchers continued following the men for an additional two years.
Prostate cancer was diagnosed in 1,739 men. Researchers found a 91% increased risk of high-grade prostate cancer among men on selenium who already had high selenium levels. Men with low selenium who took vitamin E had a 63% increased risk of prostate cancer, and a 111% increased risk of high-grade cancer.
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