Many men take vitamin E and selenium supplements to help prevent prostate cancer. A recent study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute evaluated the safety of taking these supplements. Prior to the start of this trial baseline selenium levels were tested in toenail samples all patients. Participants were randomly assigned to take a placebo, vitamin E 400IU, selenium 200mcg, or both supplements daily. The researchers found that those men with low selenium levels did not have an increased risk of developing prostate cancer. Interestingly taking vitamin E increased participant’s risk of prostate cancer if their selenium levels were low. In contrast those men with low selenium levels taking both selenium and vitamin E did not show an increased risk of prostate cancer. These findings suggest that selenium may have a protective benefit against vitamin E effects in those men with low selenium levels. However those men with high selenium levels who took additional selenium showed an increased risk for high grade prostate cancer suggesting harm if selenium levels are too high. The authors concluded that men should avoid taking extra selenium and vitamin E as the risks outweigh any benefits.
We feel that this study sheds light on some serious concerns regarding the safety of vitamin E and selenium supplementation. We do not recommend taking high doses of vitamin E or selenium for prostate health unless advised by a health care professional. However the doses found in a typical multivitamin would be considered safe. More research is necessary to determine what the optimal daily intake of selenium should be. In our opinion the best strategy for prevention of prostate cancer is a healthy lifestyle. Keep active to maintain your ideal body weight or shed those extra pounds. Make sure that you eat a diet high in fibre and low in saturated fats. Try to limit your intake of sugar, caffeine and highly processed foods. Lycopene found in tomatoes eaten regularly has been shown to decrease your cancer risk as well as drinking green tea and consuming cruciferous vegetables like broccoli. Check out our free health report for more healthy living tips and recipes. Also don’t forget to talk to your doctor about prostate screening tests as early detection is crucial.