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Am J Epidemiol. 1997 Feb 15;145(4):373-9.

Association between toenail selenium and risk of acute myocardial infarction in European men. The EURAMIC Study. European Antioxidant Myocardial Infarction and Breast Cancer.

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Department of Epidemiology, TNO Nutrition and Food Research, Zeist, The Netherlands.


The association between selenium status and risk of acute myocardial infarction was examined in a multicenter case-control study in 10 centers from Europe and Israel in 1991-1992. Selenium in toenails was assessed for 683 nonfatal male cases with first acute myocardial infarction and 729 controls less than 70 years of age. Median toenail selenium content was 0.553 microgram/g for cases and 0.590 microgram/g for controls. After adjustment for age, center, and smoking, the odds ratio for myocardial infarction in the highest quintile of selenium as compared with the lowest was 0.63 (95 percent confidence interval 0.37-1.07, p for trend = 0.08). The observed inverse trend was somewhat stronger when the authors adjusted for vitamin E status (p = 0.05). Analysis stratified for smoking habits showed an inverse association in former smokers (odds ratio for the 75th-25th percentile contrast = 0.63 (95 percent confidence interval 0.43-0.94)), but not in current smokers (odds ratio = 0.97 (0.71-1.32)) or in those who had never smoked (odds ratio = 1.55 (0.87-2.76)). Analysis stratified by center showed a significant inverse association between selenium levels and risk of myocardial infarction for Germany (Berlin) only (75th to 25th percentile odds ratio = 0.62 (95 percent confidence interval 0.42-0.91)), which was the center with the lowest selenium levels. It appears that the increased risk of acute myocardial infarction at low levels of selenium intake is largely explained by cigarette smoking; selenium status does not appear to be an important determinant of risk of myocardial infarction at the levels observed in a large part of Europe.

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