With over 40,000 new diagnoses of prostate cancer a year, it is the most common cancer in men in the UK. New research from Denmark has linked an increased risk of a high-grade aggressive form of prostate cancer to deficiencies of the selenium supplement.
Selenium is a micronutrient essential for human health, which helps to protect the body from the effects of damaging free radicals, as well as promoting a healthy immune system, playing an important role in thyroid function and helping to protect the body against the toxic effects of heavy metals.
Evidence suggests that there is a insufficient dietary intake of selenium in many European countries, including the UK. This is due to diminished levels found in soil, often as a result of continual or intensive farming. The deficiency is manifest upwards through the food chain via plants and animals, culminating in man. People also at risk of selenium deficiency include those with a restricted food intake or pregnant and lactating women.
Selenium deficiencies and cancer provides a rationale for selenium supplementation
This is key for a normal immune function, a well-functioning thyroid gland and other selenium-dependent functions. Selenium has a relatively narrow dosage window, therefore it is important to use a supplement with guaranteed dosage and bioavailability.
The most important issue regarding selenium supplements is that of bioavailability. Bioavailability is the measure of absorption of an oral supplement from the digestive tract into the bloodstream. Selenium supplements are available in several different chemical formulations, with differing bioavailability.
Findings of the study are available in the British Journal of Nutrition.