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Vitamin E and selenium fail to prevent prostate cancer

Armen Hareyan's picture

In prior posts, various research activities have been described related to the extent to which the ingestion of a variety of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients appears to help ameliorate or prevent, or which fails so to do, the ill effects from various toxic exposures (e.g., to arsenic in drinking water) or from various diseases and illnesses.

Starting in 2001 a trial involving 35,000 men that were 50+ years old was undertaken to ascertain if Vitamin E or selenium had a negative effect on the manifestation of prostate cancer. See http://www.crab.org/select/ for general information about the trial. The rationale for the study and its design is set forth at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12497090; this site also contains links to related information (for example, see the 2004 article taken from the NY Academy of Science for a more detailed restatement for the rationale for the study design).

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Doctors at more than 400 sites gave combinations of Vitamin E, the mineral selenium, and a placebo.

It was just announced that the trial was being terminated. The supplements apparently failed to prevent prostate cancer, and there were identified two potential, worrisome trends. Patients taking Vitamin E alone appeared to have a slightly higher rate of prostate cancer. Also, men who took selenium alone appeared to be more likely to develop diabetes.

Media reports note that the researchers believe the "increases" may just be due to chance; since the data is not yet publicly available, it is impossible to ascertain if this is the appropriate conclusion based on a statistical analysis of the results to date. However, the National Cancer Institute notes that such an analysis is being made. See http://www.cancer.gov/select.

Reported by Ear To Ground