MEN’S HEALTH: Selenium Can Save Your Life!

mh-7.jpgThe addition of an overlooked mineral can greatly improve men’s natural health by reducing the risk of prostate cancer.

Among all the types of cancer that can affect mature men’s health, the most common is cancer of the prostate gland. Most men will develop some amount of cancerous changes in their prostate if they live long enough, but it doesn’t usually result in their death. Although one in every six men may be diagnosed with cancer of the prostate (about 200,000 new cases each year), only one in thirty will succumb to the disease.

Prostate cancer is not caused by, but is often preceded by benign (harmless) prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), which is a swelling of the tissues from disuse. Most tissues in the body (like muscles and bones) shrink, or ‘atrophy,’ when they are not used. Uniquely, the prostate enlarges or swells (‘hypertrophy’) when it is not used as much as it once was. This occurs because the prostate gland produces the fluids in semen, and most middle-aged men are not as sexually active as they once were.

Some studies show that there may be clear associations between low levels of the mineral selenium in the blood and an increased risk of developing prostate cancer in men over 50. Prostate cancer risk was noticeably higher in those men whose blood levels of selenium were lowest, compared to controls, with a four- to five-times higher risk of cancer in those with low selenium!

The anti-cancer properties of selenium have been well established in many studies. It works synergistically with vitamin E to fight free-radicals (the highly reactive compounds that damage the nuclei of cells). As it may also help to prevent breast cancer in women, selenium is one of several minerals that are an important dietary supplement for anyone over 55.

In addition to selenium (200-400 mcg daily) and vitamin E (400-600 IUs daily), useful nutrients that lower the risk of prostate cancer are ground flaxseeds or flaxseed oil (high in ALA) and tomatoes (fresh, sun-dried or in sauce) for their lycopene.

Larger amounts of selenium have been used in some cancer treatments, but excessive quantities of selenium can be deleterious to human health (a little bit is good, but too much is too much). Most healthy individuals should take a maintenance dose of 100-200 micrograms (not mg) per day as an ideal way to support healthy prostate function and promote men’s health.

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