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J Clin Oncol. 2009 Aug 1;27(22):3577-83. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2008.18.8938. Epub 2009 Jun 15.

Plasma selenium, manganese superoxide dismutase, and intermediate- or high-risk prostate cancer.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA.



In vitro, in vivo, and epidemiologic studies support a role for selenium in reducing the risk of prostate cancer. Our group previously demonstrated a strong interaction between plasma selenium and the manganese superoxide dismutase (SOD2) gene and incident prostate cancer risk. We now hypothesized that SOD2 modifies the association between selenium level and risk of aggressive prostate cancer at diagnosis.


We assessed SOD2 variants and plasma selenium in 489 patients with localized/locally advanced prostate cancer from an ongoing retrospective cohort. Cross-sectional associations with aggressive prostate cancer (ie, stage T2b-3, prostate-specific antigen > 10 ng/mL, or biopsy Gleason score > or = 7) were evaluated using the chi(2) test, Cochran-Armitage test for trend, and estimations of relative risk (RR) and 95% CIs.


SOD2 genotype alone was not associated with disease aggressiveness, whereas higher versus lower selenium levels were associated with a slightly increased likelihood of presenting with aggressive disease (RR = 1.35; 95% CI, 0.99 to 1.84). There was evidence of an interaction between SOD2 and selenium levels such that among men with the AA genotype, higher selenium levels were associated with a reduced risk of presenting with aggressive disease (RR = 0.60; 95% CI, 0.32 to 1.12), whereas among men with a V allele, higher selenium levels were associated with an increased risk of aggressive disease (for VV or VA men, RR = 1.82; 95% CI, 1.27 to 2.61; P for interaction = .007).


These data suggest that the relationship between circulating selenium levels at diagnosis and prognostic risk of prostate cancer is modified by SOD2 genotype and indicate caution against broad use of selenium supplementation for men with prostate cancer.

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