Higher levels of Selenium in conjunction withFolic Acid lower the risk of colon cancer

April 03, 2009

Researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill report that men and women with high serum levels of selenium and a greater intake of the B complex Vitamin Folic Acid have a significantly lower risk of developing colon cancer. The current study included 620 subjects with cancer and 1,007 individuals without the disease who participated in the North Carolina Colon Cancer Study, a case-control study of colon cancer in North Carolina between 1996 and 2000. Dietary questionnaire responses were analyzed for nutrient content, including Folic Acid, and stored serum samples were analyzed for selenium levels.

The researchers found that participants with higher blood levels of the mineral Selenium achieving a level of 140 mcg/lit or higher combined with an intake of Folic Acid that was at least 354 micrograms per day had half the risk of colon cancer than those with lower levels of both nutrients; you needed both and in abundance to decrease your risk. Separate analysis according to cancer stage produced similar results.

Although numerous studies have found protective benefits for either nutrient against cancer, the authors note that no other epidemiological studies have analyzed the interaction between Folic Acid and Selenium in colon cancer risk. Deficiencies in either nutrient result in global DNA hypomethylation (damage to your genes throughout the body), which increases the risk of cancer. Additionally, Folic Acid and Selenium have been reported to enhance an aspect of immune function, which could also help protect against the disease. “Our findings suggest that it is important to take Folic Acid status into account when evaluating the relation between Selenium and colon cancer in future studies,” the authors conclude. The study is published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer, 2009; Volume 61, Issue 2.