Selenium in oncology

Schomburg Hepatic cancer Study

EPIC study co-authored by Berlin endocrinologist Professor Lutz Schomburg shows relationship of prediagnostic selenium status with HCC risk

Many Europeans have suboptimal selenium that may be a risk factor for cancers of the liver and biliary tract. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the second most frequent cause of cancer death with approx. 782,000 new cases worldwide and 52,000 new cases in Europe every year. The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study investigated the relationship between selenium status, selenoprotein P concentration and the risk of hepatic cancer, including HCC, gallbladder and hepatic duct carcinoma and intrahepatic bile duct cancer.

The takeaway messages from the EPIC study are summarized in biosyn’s folder: Selenium deficiency must not be massive to increase cancer risk. Low selenium levels are associated with a significantly higher risk of HCC. Besides hepatitis, alcohol consumption and aflatoxins, suboptimal selenium status poses an additional risk factor for hepatic cancer.

Download PDF: Schomburg Hepatic cancer Study

The SECAR study: Sodium selenite reverses chemotherapy resistance

biosyn brochure summarizes: Swedish dose-escalating trial (SECAR) rebuts misgivings about using doses of up to 18,500 µg sodium selenite

biosyn’s new 8-page brochure on “The SECAR study” summarizes the postulates, design and results of the open-label dose-escalating phase I clinical trial with intravenously administered sodium selenite as the single agent. The trial was conducted by Brodin et al. at the Karolinska University Hospital and published in the June 19, 2015 issue of Nutrients.

Pursuing a novel approach to the use of sodium selenite in cancer patients, the SECAR investigators administered very high-dose sodium selenite over 20 or 40 minutes as the sole chemotherapeutic to 34 patients with therapy-resistant, advanced tumors, including lung (71 %) and colon cancer (12%). The findings suggest that sodium selenite can reverse chemotherapy resistance. The median survival after sodium selenite treatment was 6.5 months.

The brochure also offers a good analysis of the results, including understandable graphics depicting dosage calculations and plasma selenium concentrations. The SECAR investigators concluded that a dosage of ≤ 10.2 mg/m² selenium per day for 2 weeks is safe and tolerable. High-dose sodium selenite stabilized more than a third of the patients. Importantly, many experienced a renewed response to their first-line chemotherapy.

Download PDF: The SECAR study: Sodium selenite reverses chemotherapy resistance

Selenium and oncology

A low selenium status worsens prognosis

Cancer patients frequently suffer from a disease-related selenium deficiency. A presumed reason for this is that the body has an elevated need for selenium, for instance, to maintain selenium-dependent immunesystem functions and protect against oxidative stress. Depleted selenium levels occur in patients various tumor localizations.

Hence, it is not rare for cancer patients to be selenium deficient. In their study conducted in 2011, Stevens et al. investigated the selenium levels of 430 patients with hematological malignancies. The authors observed a pronounced selenium deficiency in 45% of patients. This can also affect the prognosis in those af afflicted.


Download PDF: Selenium and oncology