If you are a man and use a selenium supplement, you likely aren’t doing yourself any favors. At least if you don’t like the thought of getting prostate cancer.
The SELECT Trial Revisited
A while ago I wrote about how ineffective or even harmful multivitamin supplements can be. The vitamin E study I linked to back then was part of the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT), that was prematurely stopped in 2008, because not only was there no positive effect, but actually those harmful ones.
But a team from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle kept monitoring the participants and now published the results: the men with the highest selenium levels at the beginning of the study had a 91% increased risk of prostate cancer. And that was even though they quit the supplements six years ago.
The Big Natural Argument
This once more shows that there is nothing “natural” about using vitamin supplements, an argument I hear again and again from those who believe they have to escape the clutches of “big pharma.”
First of all, gulping down doses of particular vitamins higher than the recommended daily allowance is not what Mother Nature intended you do to. One apple contains 10% of your daily need for vitamin C, some supps I looked at had 400%.
Second, that apple not only contains the vitamin C, but about 2,000 more physiologically active substances and the vitamin C works best in concert with those.
Third, you buying vitamin supps makes “big pharma” a profit. Two large drug companies, Pfizer and Hoffman – la Roche, are among the biggest producers of vitamin supplements. The latter is actually the company who started the entire vitamin C business.
How To Really Protect Yourself From Cancer
Lowering your risk of cancer doesn’t require any supplements. You just have to follow three simple principles:
- Maintain a healthy weight, with a BMI between 18.5 to 24.9. An increasing amount of research shows that several forms of cancer are related to obesity, among them breast, colon, kidney, pancreas and prostate cancer.
- Keep an active lifestyle, because fitness strengthens your immune system. A recent study revealed that post-menopausal women who did seven hours of just recreational walking per week had a 14% lower risk of breast cancer.
- Eat a balanced diet, with food from a variety of sources. A vitamin C supplement gives you vitamin C, an apple gives you vitamin C and those extra 2,000 phytonutrients that can benefit your body.
There Is No Absolute Protection
There is no way of absolutely protecting yourself from cancer. Cancer, put simply, is the body making mistakes when reproducing its cells. The older we get, the more likely those mistakes, which is why in western societies with their rising life expectancies cancer as cause of death is on the rise.
But you can make sure you stay healthy for as long as possible. Without buying supplements that won’t only cost, but may actually harm you.
Picture courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.