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Selenium Decreases Risk of Skin Cancer

QUEENSLAND, AustraliaA current Australian study found relatively high-serum selenium concentrations are associated with a 60-percent decrease in subsequent tumor incidence of both basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), whereas serum concentrations of carotenoids or alpha-tocopherol were not associated with later skin cancer incidence(Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2009;18(4):116773). Researchers carried out a prospective study of the associations between serum concentrations of antioxidant nutrients and incidence (person-based and tumor-based) of BCC and SCC of the skin among a random subsample of 485 adults from an Australian community. Participants were divided into thirds, ranked according to their serum concentrations of carotenoids, alpha-tocopherol and selenium measured in 1996 and were monitored for incident, histologically confirmed BCC and SCC tumors until 2004.

Although there were no associations between baseline serum carotenoids or alpha-tocopherol concentrations and incidence of BCC or SCC, baseline serum selenium concentrations showed strong inverse associations with both BCC and SCC tumor incidence. Compared with participants with lowest selenium concentrations at baseline, those with the highest serum selenium concentrations had a decreased incidence of BCC tumors and SCC tumors. A possible U-shaped association between serum selenium concentrations and SCC of the skin needs confirmation.

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