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Low selenium and lung cancer

Aug. 6, 2014, 8:00 AM

by Yan Su


A low level of selenium is associated with increased risk of lung cancer. In the United States, blacks tend to have lower serum selenium levels compared to whites. However, no large, well-characterized investigation of this connection has been conducted before.

For the first time, Meira Epplein, Ph.D., and colleagues studied the relationship between Selenoprotein P (SEPP1), the most abundant selenoprotein in plasma, and the incidence of lung cancer among more than 1,000 low-income residents in the southeastern United States who participated in the Southern Community Cohort Study (SCCS).

They found that not only did blacks tend to have lower levels of SEPP1 than whites, but that this was associated with an increased incidence of lung cancer in blacks but not whites. This finding, reported in the July issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, suggests that selenium deficiency may contribute to the racial disparity in lung cancer incidence.

The SCCS is a collaboration of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Meharry Medical College and the International Epidemiology Institute.

The study was supported by National Institutes of Health grants ES002497, CA151782, CA092447 and CA068485.

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