Many years ago, I would travel around the country giving lectures on the benefits of nutritional supplementation. Back then, an article had just been published in the December 1996 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association regarding the benefits of selenium in reducing risk of cancer incidence and mortality1.
The study, which was double-blinded and involved over 1,300 men and women in the U.S., found 200 mcg of the organic form of selenium (selenomethionine) per day reduced incidence of developing cancer by 37% and reduced mortality by an incredible 50%. I was amazed back then about the benefits and very disappointed that mainstream medicine didn’t promote this study and start recommending that people take this essential micro-mineral at 200 mcg per day in the form of selenomethionine. The shocking part is that many doctors do recommend a typical low level, poor form mass market multi-vitamin that contains only 20 mcg per day of selenium.
The studies revealing the tremendous benefits of selenium keep appearing. In one just published in the October European Journal of Cancer, a meta-analysis was performed to determine if men with low selenium levels had increased risk of developing cancer of the prostate2. A total of 20 epidemiologic studies were selected. The overall analysis indicated a possible inverse association between selenium levels and risk of developing prostate cancer. Another study was published in the September International Journal of Urology3.
Authors performed a population case control study of 178 cases of bladder cancer comparing it to 362 controls. It was found that those individuals with highest serum selenium levels had a 70% reduction in incidence of bladder cancer compared to those with the lowest serum selenium levels. The authors concluded that the case-controlled study suggested an inverse association between serum selenium concentration and risk of developing bladder caner.
Another study was published in the September edition of the British Journal of Cancer regarding selenium and breast cancer4. Eighty women with a history of breast cancer underwent a radical mastectomy and were subsequently enrolled in the study. Blood levels of selenium and special tumor marker called carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) were measured. A control group of healthy individuals was also utilized. It was found that serum selenium levels in the women with cancer were significantly lower compared to those of healthy women. It was further found that there was an inverse relationship between the level of selenium and CEA serum levels.
Moving on to another subject, there was an interesting study published in the October European Journal of Pain5. It examined the role of reactive oxygen species along with oxidative stress in regard to poorly functioning peripheral nerves. Nerve degeneration was induced in a series of mice. They were then supplemented with N-acetyl cysteine (NAC). Prior to giving the NAC, mice were tested and found to have evidence of pain in the damaged nerves.
However, after being given NAC there was a significant reduction in the level of pain in these damaged peripheral nerves. The authors concluded that NAC may a potential candidate for promoting healthy peripheral nerves. There are also numerous studies to support the use of B-complex at much higher than RDA/DV levels, acetyl-l-carnitine (ALC) and alpha lipoic acid (ALA) to promote not only healthy nerves but also a healthy brain. I recommend 1,000 to 2,000 mg per day of ALC and 300 to 600 mg per day of ALA.
Another study was just published in the October journal of Clinical Nutrition regarding green tea6. Those of you who read this newsletter on a regular basis know how much of a fan I am of green tea and its benefits against oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is caused by free radicals that damage healthy cells. This is one of the main theories of why we age and degenerate. In the study, 43 Portuguese subjects underwent total antioxidant blood evaluation . Antioxidant analysis was then performed after three weeks of drinking one liter (about a quart) of water daily and then after drinking one liter of green tea daily for four weeks. It was found that after drinking green tea, there was a significant reduction in certain measures of oxidative stress within red cells, with an overall rise of antioxidant capacity. Authors concluded that the data suggested that green tea drinking has a beneficial effect by reducing the development of oxidative stress and, therefore, protecting the individual from free radical damage.
Finally, there was an interesting study published in the October edition of the International Journal of Clinical Practice7. Sixty five subjects with metabolic syndrome and sixty five controls were enrolled. Levels of DNA damage and total antioxidant function were measured. It was found that DNA damage levels were significantly increased with significant decrease in total antioxidant capacity in individuals with metabolic syndrome compared to controls. Authors of the study felt that the increase in DNA damage might occur because of an increase in the imbalance between the production of oxidants and antioxidant defenses in individuals with metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is characterized by a group of metabolic risk factors in one person. They include:
- Abdominal obesity (excessive fat tissue in and around the abdomen)
- Atherogenic dyslipidemia (blood fat disorders-high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol and high LDL cholesterol-that foster plaque buildup in artery walls)
- Elevated blood pressure
- Insulin resistance or glucose intolerance (the body can’t properly use insulin or blood sugar)
- Prothrombotic state (e.g., high fibrinogen or plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 in the blood)
- Proinflammatory state (e.g., elevated C-reactive protein in the blood)
People with the metabolic syndrome are at increased risk of coronary heart disease and other diseases related to plaque buildup in artery walls (e.g., stroke and peripheral vascular disease) and type 2 diabetes. The metabolic syndrome has become increasingly common in the U.S. It’s estimated that over 50 million Americans have it.
I recommend new liquid fish oil, which are molecularly distilled and highly concentrated forms of fish oil. These superior products help promote healthy metabolism and cardiovascular and blood sugar health. A good supplement is one that contains chromium, green tea, B-complex, 600 mg of alpha lipoic acid and numerous other beneficial nutrients.
- L. C. Clark; G. F. Combs Jr; B. W. Turnbull; et al.Effects of selenium supplementation for cancer prevention in patients with carcinoma of the skin. A randomized controlled trial. Nutritional Prevention of Cancer Study Group. JAMA. 1996;276:1957-1963.
- Brinkman, M.; Reulen, R.; Kellen, E.; et al. Are men with low selenium levels at increased risk of prostate cancer?European J of Cancer, Oct., Vol. 42, Issue 15, p. 2463-2471.
- Kellen, E.; Zeegers, M.; Buntinx. Selenium is inversely associated with bladder cancer risk: A report from the Belgian case-control study on bladder cancer. Int J of Urology. Sept., Vol. 13, p. 1180.
- Charalabopoulos, K.; Kotsalos, A.; Batistatou, A.; et al. Selenium in serum and neoplastic tissue in breast cancer: correlation with CEA.British J of Cancer. Sept.. Vol. 95, No. 6, p. 674.
- Naik, A.; Tandan, S.; Dudhgaonkar, S.; et al. Role of oxidative stress in pathophysiology of peripheral neuropathy and modulation by N-acetyl-l-cysteine in rats. European J of Pain. Oct, Vol. 10, Issue 7, p.573-579.
- Susana Coimbra, Elisabeth Castro, Petronila Rocha-Pereira, Irene Rebelo, Susana Rocha and Alice Santos-Silva. The effect of green tea in oxidative stress. Clinical Nutrition. Oct., Vol. 25, Issue 5, p. 790-796.
- Demirbag, R.; Yilmaz, R.; Gur, M. et al. DNA damage in metabolic syndrome and its association with antioxidative and oxidative measurements. Int J of Clinical Practice. Oct., Vol. 60, issue 10, p.1187.