The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on October 6, 1996 · Page 55
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 55

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Sunday, October 6, 1996
Page 55
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EAT SMART BY JEAN CARPER SCIENCE 101 Selenium is an essential dietary mineral and antioxidant (an agent that helps quench or neutralize free-radical chemicals that cause cell damage and can lead to chronic diseases, such as cancer). A selenium deficiency can make you more vulnerable to viruses, cancer, even "down" moods and low energy. But it's poisonous in high doses. TAKE A PILL? As insurance against deficiency, some experts, such as Donald J. Lisk of Cornell University, have long taken 100-200 micrograms of selenium daily. There is no downside, Lisk says, and there could be a lot of benefit. HOW TOXIC? Usk puts the toxic dose at 2,500mcg daily. Symptoms linked to poisoning: nausea, garlicky breath, flulike symptoms, loss of hair, neurological problems, respiratory failure and liver damage. Stick to 200mcg daily; there's no reason to take more. Jean Carper is the author of Stop Aging Now! Her next column will appear in the Nov. 1-3 issue of USA WEEKEND. Selenium: A cancer knockout? A breakthrough study shows unprecedented power in this obscure mineral 4 ways selenium may protect you • PREVENTS CANCER: After years of tantalizing evidence that selenium might prevent cancer, a groundbreaking new study seems to confirm it. Physician Larry Clark, of the University of Arizona, found that a modest dose of a selenium supplement reduced overall cancer incidence by 42 percent. Further, taking selenium slashed cancer death rates in half. Clark's randomized double- blind study (the "gold standard" in medical research) followed 1,312 older people with common skin cancer an average of seven years. Half took 200 micrograms of selenium daily; the others took a placebo (inactive pill). Clark had expected selenium to block the recurrence of skin cancers. It did not. But he began to notice a striking drop in other cancers. His final analysis shows that taking selenium slashed the occurrence of prostate cancer by 69 percent; colorectal cancer, 64 percent; and lung cancer, 39 percent. The finding is unprecedented — the first real scientific proof of any nutrient's power to prevent cancer in humans. Note: Clark saw no signs of toxicity from the selenium supplement, a type readily available in drugstores and health food stores called selenomethionine, derived from yeast. The daily dose of 200mcg is about five times what most Americans consume. Whether selenium is effective against women's cancers (breast or ovarian) is unknown, because few women were in the study. • POLICES VIRUSES: A lack of selenium may allow viruses to run rampant in your body, according to recent research at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In mice raised on diets deficient in selenium, a normally harmless virus mutated into a virulent one, inflicting serious damage on heart muscle. "It was a viral transforma- » RwA rat*; For a super source of selenium, you oen't beg Brazil nuts, especially those bought in the shell. One unsifted Brazil nut, which you wok yourself, averages lOOmcg, says Cornell's Donald J. Usk. A slated nut, found In health feed stores, averages J2<2§mcg. tion from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde," says the USDA's Orville A. Levander. Selenium may help curb viruses, from colds to AIDS. Some researchers believe a selenium deficiency helps trigger the spread of the AIDS virus in the body. • UFTS MOOD: A lack of selenium can sap your energy, feed your anxiety and put you in the doldrums, says USDA psychologist James G. Penland. He found that men who boosted their intake of dietary selenium to 220mcg daily felt less anxious and more energetic, confident and agreeable. Those with the most selenium in their red blood cells felt the best. Men who initially felt the worst improved the most. Welsh researchers documented the same mood lift in a double-blind study of men and women after taking lOOmcgof a selenium supplement daily. Interestingly, Penland found selenium triggered dramatic improvement in men showing no signs of selenium deficiency. He concluded many Americans aren't getting enough selenium for peak well-being. •BOOSTS IMMUNITO In a double- blind study of elderly people, researchers at the University of Brussels found taking lOOmcg of selenium a day improved certain factors in immune functioning by 79 percent. One reason: The body needs selenium to produce a critical antioxidant enzyme. The enzyme, glutathione peroxi- dase, helps detoxify cellular fats that otherwise lower immunity, foster cancer and destroy arteries. Whether selenium helps prevent heart disease is unclear. Some studies suggest that it does, but a recent Harvard University study found no link between blood levels of selenium and heart attacks in men. To get the most • AT THE SUPERMARKET: Foods high in selenium are garlic, whole grains, sunflower seeds, nuts, meat and seafood, especially swordfish, tuna and oysters. •AT HEALTH-FOOD STORES: To get the type of selenium used in the Arizona study, look for "selenomethionine" on labels. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society and an initial grant from Nutrition 21, suppliers of the selenium. d 18 USA WEEKEND • Uvi. -4-6, 1W6

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