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Vitamin E and selenium found to increase prostate cancer risk

Micrograph of prostate adenocarcinoma taken from biopsy.
Micrograph of prostate adenocarcinoma taken from biopsy.

Researchers led by Alan Kristal of the Public Health Sciences division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle have done an about face send are now warning men NOT to take Vitamin E and Selenium help prevent prostate cancer stating that contrary to popular belief, the supplements may actually increase the risk of aggressive forms of the disease in certain cases.

The warning came after investigators in a study funded by the National Cancer Institute re-examined the data for 1,739 men from the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial, (SELECT) who were previously diagnosed with prostate cancer, compared with 3,117 others, without prostate cancer. Both sets of men were matched for comparison by race and age.

The original SELECT trial was conducted at 400 clinical sites throughout the US, Puerto Rico and Canada and involved more than 35,000 throughout the country. It was actually discontinued earlier than intended when it showed no protective effect for selenium and found that participants took 400 IU (international units) of vitamin E daily had more prostate cancers compared to men who took a placebo.As a result the men in the study were told to “stop taking the supplements and kept checking in with them.”

Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer in American males (after skin cancer).