February 24, 2014 — The risk of prostate cancer may double for men who take Vitamin E or selenium supplements, especially men who have high levels of selenium, according to research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
The conclusions are based on data from a trial that has been ongoing since 2001, when some studies suggested that selenium and Vitamin E could reduce the risk of prostate cancer. The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT) enrolled over 35,000 American men aged 55 years and older.
Participants took 200 micrograms of selenium and 400 IU of vitamin E every day. Normal dietary intake of selenium is 55 micrograms and 22 IU of vitamin E, which most people get through eating a balanced diet.
During the study, 1,739 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer. Among men who already had high levels of selenium, supplements increases their risk of high-grade cancer by 91% and levels of selenium became toxic. Among men who had low selenium levels at baseline, Vitamin E increased the risk of prostate cancer by 63% and the risk of high-grade cancer by 111%.
Researchers concluded that men should not take doses of selenium or Vitamin E that exceed recommended dietary intake levels.
The author of the study, Dr. Alan Kristal, stated:
“Many people think that dietary supplements are helpful or at the least innocuous. This is not true. We know from several other studies that some high-dose dietary supplements – that is, supplements that provide far more than the daily recommended intakes of micronutrients – increase cancer risk. We knew this based on randomized, controlled, double-blinded studies for folate and beta carotene, and now we know it for vitamin E and selenium.”
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