Anti-cancerous properties in Selenium could significantly lower bowel cancer risk,an Australian study has found.
Selenium,a mineral found in many foods including seafood,grains and eggs,is known to boost the body’s antioxidant processes to play a range of other beneficial roles,according to reports.
One such function is enhancing the triggering of “apoptosis” — a vital process that allows cells to kill themselves if they detect an error,researcher Graeme Young was quoted in the report as saying.
“When a cell realises that something has gone wrong,it can trigger its own death so the cell doesn’t become a problem,” Young,head of Flinders Centre for Cancer Prevention and Control at Adelaide’s Flinders University,said.
“What the selenium does is just make the cell better at perceiving that it has to kill itself.”
Selenium had yet another beneficial role,Young said,as it was also thought to reduce damage to DNA-making cells less prone to “misbehaving” in the first place.
“When we put it all together,selenium looks a potentially useful agent when it comes to reducing our risk of getting a range of different cancers,” he said.
His last year’s study found that mice fed extra selenium lowered incidence of bowel cancer by 60 per cent.
A follow-up study of 23 healthy people,aged over 50 who had extra selenium added to their daily milk,indicated a similar protective effect,the report said.
Both mice and human study participants had elevated levels of the powerful antioxidant (called GPx-2) in their gut,which Young said was linked to their increased selenium intake.
“We think that activated GPx-2 in the bowel is what reduces the chance of getting cancer,” he said.
Young is expected to present the results of this latest study at an expert summit — Australian Gastroenterology Week — which is underway in Sydney.
The recommended daily intake of selenium is 50 micrograms. “(But) to get the benefit of protecting you against cancer it seems that you probably have to get close to 150 micrograms,” Young said,adding this was the equivalent of about four brazil nuts.
However,he warned that in higher doses,selenium can be toxic.
“Our concern is that people often think that if a little bit of something is good for you,you should take a lot of it,” Young said adding “You could end up with selenium toxicity … your hair falls our,your nails fall out,you get kidney problems and you can potentially get problems with glucose and insulin control too.”