Selenium has multiple effects in cancer treatment

September 22, 2008
Recent epidemiological studies have demonstrated that selenium may be an effective chemopreventive and anticancer agent with a broad spectrum against several human cancer cells including those of prostate, colon, bladder, lung, liver, and ovarian cancer and leukemia. A wide range of potential mechanisms have been proposed for the tumor preventing effects of selenium and these include anti-androgen activity. There is also a cancer growth inhibitory effect by regulation of p53; A gene in the cell that normally inhibits the growth of tumors - this can prevent or slow the spread of cancer. Selenium also functions as an antioxidant. However, apoptosis is one of the most plausible mechanisms for the anticancer activity; this is in relation to the killing and removal of cancer cells. The regulating mechanisms of apoptosis are extremely complex and for selenium compounds they mainly involve a mitochondrial pathway, (energy production inhibitio0n in mutated cells), tumor necrosis factor (immune system activity), activation of caspases and reactive oxygen species (cellular executioners). The body’s twenty eight selenium-containing molecules have implications for controlling apoptosis and this has impact in cancer therapy. The study is published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer, 2008;60(4).