The suspected deleterious effect of supplementing men’s diets with
selenium or vitamin E in an effort to prevent prostate cancer has
apparently been confirmed. The findings appear in the Journal of the
National Cancer Institute.
Researchers examined data from the SELECT trial, which examined
whether supplemental selenium, vitamin E, or both could lower prostate
risk. They found that men with low baseline selenium levels (as
measured in toenail samples) did not benefit from selenium supplements
alone or combined with vitamin E. And in fact, those with higher
baseline selenium showed a significantly increased risk for high-grade
prostate cancer with selenium supplementation.
For their part, vitamin E supplements alone had no effect in men with
higher baseline selenium levels, but they increased risks for all
grades of prostate cancer among those with lower baseline selenium.
The authors conclude that men over 55 should avoid both selenium and
vitamin E supplements that exceed recommended dietary levels.