Selenium has been touted as an anticancer nutrient and many studies
since the 1970s support this. This trace mineral is found in various
foods and its absorption is enhanced when taken in conjunction with
It is one ingredient in a set of drugs collectively known as "jiang-shi"
used by Chinese to prevent and treat cancer. In 1974, "jiang-shi"
was added to drinking water wells and cancer mortality rates plunged
dramatically for the next 15 years. (Stomach cancer rates are high in
this country.) Further study of selenium in the U.S. indicated that
it did not reduce skin, head-neck, breast or bladder cancers. There
was reduction in prostate, correctal and lung cancers.
Selenium is a vital antioxidant, protecting the immune system by preventing
the formation of free radicals. Researchers speculate that selenium
prevents cancer by inhibiting tumor growth and inducing a form of chemical
"suicide" within malignant cells. It is part of an enzyme,
glutathione peroxidase, now believed to help detoxify harmful chemicals.
As with most nutrients, supplementation is only helpful when there is
a deficiency in the nutrient.
Sources of selenium are (depending on the soil content):
Symptoms suggestive of excessive selenium intake:
- Brazil nuts
- Brewers yeast
- Brown rice
- Dairy products
- Wheat germ
- Whole grains
- Sesame seeds
- Brittle fingernails
- Bad teeth
- Skin discoloration
- Garlic odor of the breath
- Brittle or lost hair
- Skin inflammation
- Gastrointestinal complaints
The selenium content of food depend on the soil that the foods are
grown in. Beef, garlic, asparagus, and seafood are rich sources of selenium.
Encyclopedia of Nature's Vitamin's & Minerals
results of recent experiments demonstrate that selenium supplementation
to the diet of mice significantly inhibit both viral and chemical
carcinogen-induced tumor formation in the mammary gland."
"ACS Writers Forum" 1981