Cancer risk from deficiency symptoms: selenium can protect the liver

Cancer risk from deficiency symptoms: selenium can protect the liver

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Lack of selenium increases cancer risk
Dietary supplements have enjoyed increasing popularity for years. However, health experts have warned in the past against the uncontrolled intake of the trace element selenium, as it increases the risk of developing cancer. Berlin researchers are now reporting that high selenium levels in the blood reduce the risk of liver cancer.

Experts advise against selenium supplementation
Dietary supplements are enjoying growing popularity, but according to the German Society for Endocrinology (DGE), excessive consumption of the trace element selenium is toxic. If healthy people consume selenium supplements in excess, severe complaints can occur.

Affected people usually suffer from abdominal pain, gastrointestinal complaints, hair loss and changes in the nails. In addition, symptoms such as irritability, fatigue or nerve irritation are possible. The risk of type II diabetes is also increased.

A study showed that high doses of selenium can also increase the risk of prostate cancer. Apparently there are also complex cancer-promoting interactions between too much vitamin E and selenium.

Reduced risk of liver cancer
Scientists at Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, in cooperation with the "International Agency for Research on Cancer", have now shown that high selenium levels in the blood reduce the risk of liver cancer. The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, also included other risk factors and looked at the impact of selenium care on the development of other cancers.

Trace element in fish and meat
As the university wrote in a statement, the trace element selenium (Se) is found in fish, seafood, meat, milk and eggs, among other things. The element finds its way through the soil and plants in the course of nutrition in humans and animals.

European soils are rather poor in selenium, which is reflected in a more or less pronounced selenium deficiency in the population. Therefore, the trace element is used in Germany, for example in animal fattening.

Selenium deficiency can promote illness
According to the experts, there are no disadvantages from a selenium-rich diet or adequate supplementation. A selenium deficiency, on the other hand, can therefore be a risk factor for diseases. "We were able to demonstrate that a lack of selenium is a strong risk factor for liver cancer," said Prof. Dr. Lutz Schomburg from the Institute for Experimental Endocrinology.

"According to our data, the third of the population with the greatest selenium deficiency has a five to ten times higher risk of hepatocellular carcinoma, also called liver cancer," said the scientist.

Importance of a balanced diet
According to the information, the current investigation is a case-control study. From a cohort of 477,000 subjects, those were identified who had developed hepatocellular carcinoma in the following ten years. The blood samples were analyzed for selenium status when the participants were still healthy.

“Our study does not directly show that selenium supplementation protects against liver cancer. However, it once again underlines the importance of a balanced diet, in which the trace element selenium must not be missing, ”said Prof. Schomburg. Previous studies suggested similar relationships between selenium status and colorectal cancer risk or the likelihood of thyroid disease. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: Selenium and Type 2 Diabetes (August 2022).