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Am J Gastroenterol. 2002 Aug;97(8):2103-8.

Serum selenium and risk of large size colorectal adenomas in a geographical area with a low selenium status.

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  • 1Department of Gastroenterology, Hospital Universitari Germans Trias i Pujol, Badalona, Spain.



Selenium is a fundamental nutrient to human health that might have anticarcinogenic effects. Previous studies have assessed the possible relationship of selenium status to colorectal adenomas with controversial results. We primarily aimed to assess the relationship of serum selenium status with the presence of large size colorectal adenomas in subjects living in a poor selenium region. The serum selenium status in colorectal cancer was also evaluated.


Serum selenium levels were measured in 28 patients with large size sporadic adenomatous polyps, 24 patients with colorectal adenocarcinomas, and 35 age-matched healthy individuals. A logistic regression analysis was performed to assess the relationship of serum selenium to colorectal adenomatous polyps after adjusting for confounding variables (age, sex, smoking habit, and alcohol drinking).


Among subjects aged < or = 60 yr, mean serum selenium levels were significantly lower in both patient groups (adenoma, 57.9 +/- 4.3 microg/L; cancer, 43.7 +/- 6.6 microg/L) than in healthy controls (88.9 +/- 8 microg/L) (p = 0.0001). There were no difference among subjects > 60 yr old. A significant inverse association between selenium status and the diagnosis of large size adenomatous polyps after adjusting for confounding variables was found (adjusted p = 0.029). Subjects with higher selenium status (> or = 75th percentile value of 82.11 microg/L) had a lower probability (OR = 0.17, 95% CI = 0.03-0.84) to be in the adenoma group than subjects with lower selenium status (< 82.11 microg/L). This association was more marked in subjects aged < or = 60 yr (adjusted p value = 0.04, OR = 0.08, 95% CI = 0.007-0.91), and was not significant in older subjects.


Results suggest that high selenium status may decrease the risk of large size adenomas in a low selenium region, and that this preventive effect seems to be exclusive to subjects < or = 60 yr. These results will need to be confirmed in additional epidemiological studies before recommending selenium supplementation in patients with colon adenomas.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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