For the last two decades selenium has been touted to have anti-cancer properties. A study by dermatologists in the early 1990’s to look at prevention of second non-melanoma skin cancers found as an unexpected findings that men who were given selenium had a dramatic reduction in the incidence of prostate cancer. That article spawned an entire industry of research and product placement, with nutriceutical companies hawking the benefits of selenium. Eventually this concept was debunked and selenium supplementation was no longer in the medicine cabinet of men wishing to prevent prostate cancer.
The story didn’t die there, however, because an interest in selenium in the prevention of bladder cancer has remained, and some studies have shown the possibility that it might work. In the December 2016 issue of the European Journal of Cancer a group from Belgium looked at the ability of selenium to prevent bladder cancer recurrences in people at risk. The study was straightforward in that people were randomized to selenium supplementation or placebo. Bottom line: selenium was of no benefit. One could pick apart the study design and the fact that they studied fewer than 300 people but the results were not even vaguely suggestive of an improved outcome. Will this be the death knell of selenium as a cancer prevention tool? Unlikely, since the alternative medicine world remains stuck on the concept that antioxidants, of which selenium is but one, can prevent cancer by scavenging free radicals. This is a great concept; it just hasn’t proved useful in the real world.
Anyone wishing the complete article (the link above just provides the abstract because of copyright issues) can fill out the form to the right of this posting. Dr. Stark can send it to you; he just cannot post the link to the full article because he can’t retain it on his website server.