Stocking up on selenium may protect against throat and stomach cancer

January 7, 2010 in Cancer Prevention, Nutrition Topics in the News

Stocking up on selenium may protect against throat and stomach cancer

In a study of over 120,000 people, Dutch researchers are reporting that adequate intakes of selenium may offer protection against cancer of the esophagus.

In the study, researchers from Maastricht University Medical Center in The Netherlands followed over 120,000 men and women between the ages of 55 to 69 for 16 years.  After comparing selenium levels and rates of cancer, researchers found that people with the highest levels of selenium had the lowest rates of developing esophageal cancer, or esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC).

While the findings are preliminary, researchers suspect that low selenium levels may increase the risk of esophageal cancer, especially in women, never-smokers, and people with low antioxidant intakes.

Selenium is a mineral needed by the body in small amounts.  The main source of selenium in the diet is from plant foods, which get the mineral from the soil they’re grown in. 

The findings were published in the December 2009 issue of Gastroenterology.

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