Food in Europe contains the trace element selenium only in small amounts, which could be an explanation for the fact that so many Europeans are infected with cancer. A recent epidemiological study of 520,000 European men and women from Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the UK showed that low selenium levels increase the risk of developing a certain type of liver cancerLiver cell carcinoma( HCC).The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, supports the results of previous studies, where researchers have identified a relationship between low selenium levels and an increased risk of different cancers, particularly prostate cancer and colorectal carcinomas.
Selenium, a nutrient mainly contained in fish, meat, nuts, onions and grains, is required by about 30 different selenium-dependent enzymes( selenoproteins) in the body. One of these selenoproteins, selenoprotein P, appears to be particularly important for cancer prevention. In the above-mentioned study, the scientists also observed that the values of the blood circulating selenoprotein P were lower in the subjects with diagnosed liver cell carcinoma than in the control group.
Europeans have selenium deficiency
In many parts of Europe, the excretion of selenium is worryingly low, for which there are various causes. One of these is the fact that the agricultural soils in Europe contain only comparatively small amounts of this vital nutrient. The content can only be increased by enriching the soil accordingly. In this way the Finnish government encountered the low selenium status of the population in the 1980s and wrote a legal selenium content for all fertilizers. In Sweden, scientists recently pointed out that the selenium values of the older population are below the optimum. Furthermore, according to the British Selen Expert Prof. Dr. Margaret P. Rayman of the University of Surrey in Guildford halved the supply of selenium over the past three to four decades.
Are dietary supplements the solution?
It is widely known that not all Europeans adhere to the guidelines for a healthy diet, but even if they do so, it is questionable whether this would ensure sufficient excretion of selenium. More and more people are using selenium to reduce the low selenium content in European food. This could be a wise decision, as the results of a Swedish study published in 2013 suggest. In the study, 443 normal, healthy elderly patients received either a selenium preparation( combined with coenzyme Q10) or inactive pills with no ingredients( placebos) over a period of five years. The group treated with selenium and coenzyme Q10 had a 54% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. In addition, her heart muscle function was significantly better than that of the placebo group.
Prediagnostic selenium status and hepatobiliary cancer risk in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition cohort.