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Dose Response. 2009 Dec 21;8(3):285-300. doi: 10.2203/dose-response.09-036.Chiang.

Defining the Optimal Selenium Dose for Prostate Cancer Risk Reduction: Insights from the U-Shaped Relationship between Selenium Status, DNA Damage, and Apoptosis.

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Gerald P. Murphy Cancer Foundation, West Lafayette, IN; Interdepartmental Nutrition Program and The Center on Aging and the Life Course, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.


Our work in dogs has revealed a U-shaped dose response between selenium status and prostatic DNA damage that remarkably parallels the relationship between dietary selenium and prostate cancer risk in men, suggesting that more selenium is not necessarily better. Herein, we extend this canine work to show that the selenium dose that minimizes prostatic DNA damage also maximizes apoptosis-a cancer-suppressing death switch used by prostatic epithelial cells. These provocative findings suggest a new line of thinking about how selenium can reduce cancer risk. Mid-range selenium status (.67-.92 ppm in toenails) favors a process we call "homeostatic housecleaning"-an upregulated apoptosis that preferentially purges damaged prostatic cells. Also, the U-shaped relationship provides valuable insight into stratifying individuals as selenium-responsive or selenium-refractory, based upon the likelihood of reducing their cancer risk by additional selenium. By studying elderly dogs, the only non-human animal model of spontaneous prostate cancer, we have established a robust experimental approach bridging the gap between laboratory and human studies that can help to define the optimal doses of cancer preventives for large-scale human trials. Moreover, our observations bring much needed clarity to the null results of the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT) and set a new research priority: testing whether men with low, suboptimal selenium levels less than 0.8 ppm in toenails can achieve cancer risk reduction through daily supplementation.


cancer prevention; dietary supplements; dog; non-linear; personalized medicine

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