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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2010 Sep;19(9):2407-15. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-10-0544. Epub 2010 Aug 31.

Selenium and bladder cancer risk: a meta-analysis.

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Spanish National Cancer Research Centre, Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology Group, Madrid, Spain.



Selenium is considered to be an antioxidant, and its high levels have been inversely associated with cancer risk of several sites. This meta-analysis examined the relationship between levels of selenium measured in serum and toenails, and the risk of bladder cancer.


A meta-analysis using data from seven published epidemiologic studies (three case-control, three nested case-control, one case-cohort) published before March 2010 was done to examine the association between levels of selenium and bladder cancer. Fixed and random effects analyses were done to calculate meta-odds ratio (mOR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI). Heterogeneity among studies was measured by the I(2) statistic.


Overall, the risk of bladder cancer was inversely associated with elevated levels of selenium according to a random-effects model (mOR = 0.61; 95% CI, 0.42-0.87). The mORs were 0.95 (95% CI, 0.69-1.27) and 0.55 (95% CI, 0.32-0.95) among men and women, respectively. Sex, type of sample specimen, smoking status, and study design were found to be potential sources of heterogeneity.


A significant protective effect of selenium, observed mainly among women, may result from gender-specific differences in its accumulation and excretion. The heterogeneity found among studies was mainly linked to the different biological sample specimens used to measure the selenium concentrations and the small size of the studies. Although these results suggest a protective effect of selenium for bladder cancer risk, additional large studies are warranted to support these preliminary evidence.


The present results suggest a beneficial effect of high selenium intake for bladder cancer risk.

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