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Nutr Cancer. 1997;28(2):125-9.

Plasma selenium levels and the risk of colorectal adenomas.

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Division of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 27599, USA.


Previous research has suggested that selenium may protect against the development of colorectal neoplasia. We examined the potential chemopreventive properties of selenium against colorectal adenomas while controlling for a number of dietary and life-style factors. We conducted a cross-sectional study among patients referred for colonoscopy to University of North Carolina Hospitals. Cases had one or more pathologically confirmed adenomas, and noncases had none. Plasma selenium levels were determined using graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry with Zeeman background correction and platform technique. Odds ratios were calculated using logistic regression analysis adjusting for potential confounders. The mean plasma selenium concentrations for cases (n = 37) and noncases (n = 36) were 107 and 120 micrograms/l, respectively (p = 0.06). Those in the fourth quartile of plasma selenium level had 0.24 times the risk (95% confidence interval = 0.06-1.04) for colorectal adenomas of those in the first quartile. The adjusted odds ratio for colorectal adenomas was 0.58 (95% confidence interval = 0.31-1.08) for a 30 microgram/l increase in plasma selenium level. Lower plasma selenium levels were associated with multiple adenomas but not with adenoma size or location. These data support a protective effect of selenium against colorectal adenomas after adjustment for possible confounders. Selenium might be a potentially useful chemopreventive agent for colorectal neoplasia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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