Brazil Nuts & Prostate Cancer II
The below article is from: http://www.healthboards.com/boards/showthread.php?t=570119
It is dated January 2008.
There is some impressive research indicating that selenium is
beneficial for preventing and supporting treatment of prostate cancer.
In fact the fully enrolled SELECT trial is now in progress, with over
30,000 men who did not have prostate cancer at the time of enrollment.
The trial will test whether 200 mcg daily of selenium, 400 IU of
vitamin E, or a combination of selenium and vitamin E prevents more
prostate cancer than a placebo. We won't get the first interim result
until five years after enrollment was completed, which probably means
that the first interim result is still several years away. There's also
a similar European trial now underway.
I've been taking at least 200 mcg of selenium daily as a supplement
since shortly after I was diagnosed with prostate cancer eight years
ago. I use the supplement, because I live in an area where selenium is
deficient in the soil and it is fairly hard to get an adequate amount
of selenium from food unless you get it in garlic grown in selenium
rich soil or in certain wheat, or from Brazil nuts. (Northern Nebraska
and the Dakotas, in contrast, have an abundance of selenium in the
soil, but many of the heavily populated areas in the US are deficient.)
I knew that Brazil nuts were the best source of selenium, but they are
hard to crack. So I was glad this December when I found a brand of
shelled Brazil nuts, but my store does not stock them past Christmas. I
figured there must be a fairly easy way to get the nuts out of that
tough shell. A week ago I actually read what was stated on a package of
the nuts, and learned a trick. If you freeze the nuts for 24 hours, a
nutcracker will open them fairly neatly with little effort.
I also now know that a few nuts go a long way. I wanted to check how
much selenium I was getting in the average shelled nut and went to this
National Institutes of Health Government website:
. I learned that just one ounce of the nuts provides a whopping 544
micrograms of selenium, more than double the dose I was aiming for.
I just weighed some Brazil nuts, adding the shelled nuts to a scale til
I reached an ounce. It took just five nuts, so each is about 110 mcg,
and just two would give me about the dose I am looking for.
The US Institute of Medicine has established 400 mcg as a maximum safe
dose. However, toxicity from an excessive dose gives plenty of warning,
such as "gastrointestinal upsets, hair loss, white blotchy nails,
garlic breath odor, fatigue, irritability, and mild nerve damage,"
quoting from the Government fact sheet. Nails, breath, and hair loss
are the warning symptoms I have heard mentioned most frequently. (That
said, the TV show CSI had one case that turned out to be selenium
poisoning, but the dose was extremely high.) The fact sheet also gives
information about selenium deficiency.
Recently one study was published that found a possible weak association
between selenium and Type II diabetes, the kind where the body produces
enough insulin but isn't able to get it where it needs to go.
Several other studies have found no such association. However, Dr.
Charles Myers, who specializes in prostate cancer and is one of the
leading experts in nutrition and prostate cancer, recommends not
exceeding 200 mcg to be on the safe side. While the association found
in the one study was not strong, Dr. Myers noted "... in this study,
serum [blood] selenium levels were measured and there was a pretty
tight link between increasing selenium levels and increased risk of
diabetes, which makes the likelihood of a link greater."
Personally, I don't want to give up selenium because I'm very impressed
with the stunning 64% reduction in incidence of prostate cancer
achieved in the "Clark" trial that caught everyone's attention back in
1996. This huge reduction has also stood up as patients were observed for additional years of followup.
I want a piece of that action for myself as its likely selenium also
influences prostate cancer that already exists. (What's more, certain
families have a deficiency of an enzyme named superoxide dismutase and
are at rincreased risk of prostate cancer. Dr. Myers has stated, based
on research he has reviewed: "If these people take selenium and other
antioxidants, their risk of developing prostate cancer is reduced by
Because of the recently discovered safety issue, Dr. Myers recommends
that those of us on selenium have our fasting blood sugar tested, and
if it is above 90, he recommends discussing a possible insulin
resistance problem with our doctors. For patients with known diabetes
or insulin resistance, he suggests getting the selenium blood level
tested and perhaps stopping selenium until research clears up the
Because of my challenging case, I have been on a higher dose of
selenium, at my own choosing but following the lead of a doctor (not
Dr. Myers), 400 mcg vice the recommended 200 mcg, for more time than
not. After the recent selenium study was published I cut back the dose
to 200 mcg. I am clearly not diabetic, but my latest fasting blood
sugar this spring was 90, so I am going to keep an eye on this. I also
consume a lot of green tea and lycopene which are known to combat
Is anyone else eating Brazil nuts to get enough selenium, and if so,
did you know about the freezing trick? Had you heard about the possible
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