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Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2014;15(13):5187-94.

Lack of association between fingernail selenium and thyroid cancer risk: a case-control study in French Polynesia.

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Radiation Epidemiology Group, Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health (CESP), UMR 1018 Inserm, France E-mail



Numerous studies have suggested that selenium deficiency may be associated with an increased risk for several types of cancer, but few have focused on thyroid cancer.


We examined the association between post-diagnostic fingernail selenium levels and differentiated thyroid cancer risk in a French Polynesian matched case-control study. Conditional logistic regression models were used to estimate odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals.


The median selenium concentration among controls was 0.76 μg/g. Significantly, we found no association between fingernail selenium levels and thyroid cancer risk after conditioning on year of birth and sex and additionally adjusting for date of birth (highest versus lowest quartile: odds-ratio=1.12, 95% confidence interval: 0.66-1.90; p-trend=0.30). After additional adjustment for other covariates, this association remained non-significant (p-trend=0.60). When restricting the analysis to thyroid cancer of 10 mm or more, selenium in nails was non-significantly positively linked to thyroid cancer risk (p-trend=0.09). Although no significant interaction was evidenced between iodine in nails and selenium in nails effect (p=0.70), a non-significant (p-trend =0.10) positive association between selenium and thyroid cancer risk was seen in patients with less than 3 ppm of iodine in nails. The highest fingernail selenium concentration in French Polynesia was in the Marquises Islands (M=0.87 μg/g) and in the Tuamotu-Gambier Archipelago (M=0.86 μg/g).


Our results do not support, among individuals with sufficient levels of selenium, that greater long-term exposure to selenium may reduce thyroid cancer risk. Because these findings are based on post-diagnostic measures, studies with prediagnostic selenium are needed for corroboration.

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