Harvard Men's Health Watch

Selenium and vitamin E raise risk of prostate cancer

Taking extra vitamin E or selenium every day can raise the risk of prostate cancer, according to a study published online February 22 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The findings confirm what researchers have suspected since the first results emerged in 2008 from the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial
(SELECT). Researchers halted SELECT early after finding no evidence that taking a daily supplement—with 200 micrograms (mcg) of selenium, 400 international units (IU) of vitamin E, or both—reduced the risk of prostate cancer. The early results also suggested that taking vitamin E increased the chance of prostate cancer by 17%.

The latest report is based on continued follow-up of the men in SELECT. Researchers compared 1,739 men diagnosed with prostate cancer against 3,117 men without cancer. The men were 50 and older at the start of the trial in 2001.

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