Higher Blood Selenium Strongly Linked to Reduction in Melanoma Recurrence and Improved Survival Outcomes
Source: J Biomedicines 2021
Lifestyle Medicine Update (September 26, 2022)
An important study published in 2021 in the journal Biomedicines has shown that individuals with higher selenium blood levels, who were previously treated for melanoma, show better overall survival outcomes – meaning that they have a much lower risk of recurrence, metastases, or progression of their cancer than those with lower blood selenium levels. Melanoma is one of the most aggressive human malignancies. Over 320,000 new cases were diagnosed globally in 2020, with 57,000 deaths.
Data from the Global Cancer Observatory indicate that over the last decade, the incidence rates of melanoma have increased by nearly 50%, with deaths increasing by 32%. According to the WHO prediction, the number of deaths related to melanoma will increase by 20% in 2025, rising to 74% in 2040. In addition to avoiding excessive exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning beds, one of the emerging ways to potentially help protect yourself against melanoma is to ensure that your blood level of selenium is in the ideal range. As the authors of the 2021 study explain, “many studies show that the mineral selenium takes part in several cellular processes and molecular pathways that may be involved in anti-cancer activity, i.e., reduction in DNA damage, oxidative stress – or free radical stress, and inflammation; detoxification of carcinogens; enhancement of immune response; alteration in DNA methylation; regulation of the cell cycle; induction of apoptosis – programmed cell death – of cancer cells; inhibition of angiogenesis required for the growth and metastasis of tumors.”
Additionally, many other in vivo and in vitro reports have found that selenium compounds and selenoproteins (selenium-dependent proteins) may affect other aspects of cancer development and progression. Although it is not definitely understood how selenium affects cancer prognosis, the literature data support the association between higher selenium levels and improved cancer outcomes, overall. For instance, “Harris et al. suggested that selenium may improve breast cancer-specific survival and overall survival.” Other publications have recently presented the association between low levels of circulating selenium and survival in women with breast cancer. Higher serum selenium levels at the time of diagnosis have also been reported to be associated with improved outcomes in patients with cancers of the lung and larynx.”
Regarding melanoma, the study published in the journal Biomedicines (2022) involved 375 melanoma patients from Poland, which found that a low serum selenium level (i.e., below 76.44 µg/L) was associated with an increased mortality rate in the 10 years following diagnosis. All study participants fasted (12-14 hours) before blood sample collection for selenium level evaluation. The measurement was conducted prior to treatment other than surgical removal of the primary skin lesion. The researchers concluded that their findings are consistent with the literature data, since in all published studies, either low serum selenium levels correlated with a worse prognosis or higher selenium levels correlated with a better outcome. “We showed, herein, that a low selenium level might contribute to worse survival for patients with melanoma.”
I think this study suggests that we should all strive to have a selenium blood level that is above 77 ug/L. I personally take a multivitamin and mineral each day that contains 200 mcg of selenium. This ensures an optimal blood level of selenium and is consistent with other studies showing the positive effects of this selenium dosage on more optimal immune function, and when combined with CoQ10 supplementation, a decreased risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
I have included the references for this information in the text below.
1. Melanoma: Rogoza-Janiszewska E et al. Serum selenium level and 10-year survival after melanoma. Biomedicines 2021, 9: 991 https://www.mdpi.com/2227-9059/9/8/991
2. Selenium and Immunity: Hiffler L et al. Selenium and RNA virus interactions: Potential implications for SARS-CoV-2 infection (COVID-19). Frontiers in Nutrition. September 2020: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2020.00164/full
3. Selenium and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality: Alehagen U et al. Still reduced cardiovascular mortality 12 years after supplementation with selenium and coenzyme Q10 for four years.: A validation of previous 10-year follow-up results of a prospective randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial in elderly. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5894963/
Eat Smart Live Well, Look Great,
Dr. James Meschino
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.