A recent study found an increased risk of developing cancer of the liver may be linked with low levels of the trace mineral selenium. Western diets and lifestyles were blamed for this selenium deficiency.
Data from the EPIC cohort study was analyzed to provide data for this study. Over 500,000 men and women between the ages of 25 and 70 participated in the EPIC cohort study between the years 1992 and 2000. Study participants filled out questionnaires regarding lifestyle information like activity levels, medical and smoking histories and education. Blood levels of selenium were also collected. A control group was established by utilizing data from 121 individuals with liver cancer and 140 individuals with biliary tract and bladder cancer. Equal numbers of individuals who were cancer free were matched against the first group.
Observational and experimental evidence found low intakes of the trace mineral selenium contributed to the development of many cancers. Selenium is known to protect cells from oxidative stress and this role may account for the outcome of this study.
A growing body of data shows increasing rates of liver cancer in industrialized countries due to unhealthy lifestyle and dietary habits. Treatment options may be limited since liver cancers are usually diagnosed at later stages.
Further research is planned.
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