Volume 1, Issue 7
October 23, 2008
Cut your risk of dying from
Did you know that there's one single nutrient that can greatly reduce your risk from almost all cancers? And, while most nutrients need other nutrients to really be effective, this one doesn't. It can prevent cancer all by itself.
In fact, a new study confirms the power of this nutrient. However, this same study found the nutrient's one weakness — it can't protect you from skin cancer. Fortunately, I have other remedies for that (which I'll tell you about in future health alerts).
In the study, the researchers originally started out to investigate whether or not taking selenium supplements would prevent skin cancer. They looked at a total of 1,312 patients of all ages. All of the patients had one thing in common: They all had a history of either basal cell or squamous cell carcinomas of the skin.
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The researchers followed the patients for a total of six years. They gave half of them 200 mcg of selenium per day. They gave the other half placebos. Unfortunately, the selenium treatment did not significantly lower the incidence of either basal cell or squamous cell skin cancer.
However, as the researchers examined their data, they found an unexpected result.
Although there was no difference between the two groups in skin cancer, there was a big difference in total cancers, and specifically lung, colon, and prostate cancers. Of the 656 patients in the selenium group, only 77 of them developed cancer of any kind. Compare that to the 119 people taking the placebos. That's about a 10% reduction across the board from one single nutrient. I call that just plain amazing.
Furthermore, there were "significant reductions in total cancer mortality" as well. In fact, the differences are startling. During the entire study, only 29 people taking the selenium supplements died from various cancers. But there were 57 deaths in the ones deprived of the selenium. That's almost twice as many!
In fact, the dangers were so striking for the placebo group that as soon as the researchers noticed what was happening, they did the right thing and stopped the study immediately.
So why didn't selenium work for skin cancer? I think it's because of a couple of mistakes the researchers made while conducting this study. First, selenium at a dose of only 200 mcg is too small for most purposes. I find that most cancer patients need at least twice that much. Second, the researchers did not check blood levels of selenium to verify (1) that the patients taking the selenium pills werein fact really taking them, and (2) to make sure that the doses were high enough to ensure healthy selenium blood levels.
The fact that the study did not show a reduction in skin cancer might very well be related to these design flaws.
So if you are concerned about cancer, and I think we all should be, please make sure that you take at least 200 micrograms of supplemental selenium. All by itself it seems to have a remarkable effect. But if you combine it with a healthy overall supplement/lifestyle program, I would certainly expect the results to be even better — even for skin cancer.
Finding your Real Cures,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
REFS: Clark LC, Combs GF Jr, Turnbull BW, 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 Dec 25;276(24):1957-63.