One of the most effective naturally occurring weapons against cancer is, like most healthy things, something many of us are not getting enough of. The mineral selenium has been shown in multiple studies to be an effective tool in warding off various types of cancer, including breast, esophageal, stomach, prostate, liver and bladder cancers. Not many people get the recommended dose of 200 micrograms a day. Most Americans only get between 60 and 100 micrograms of selenium daily from dietary sources
Selenium was first used in conventional medicine as a treatment for dandruff, but our understanding of the mineral has come a long way since then. Today, research shows selenium, especially when used in conjunction with vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene, works to block chemical reactions that create free radicals in the body (which can damage DNA and cause degenerative change in cells, leading to cancer).
Selenium also helps stop damaged DNA molecules from reproducing. In other words, selenium acts to prevent tumors from developing. In addition to preventing the onset of the disease, selenium has also been shown to aid in slowing cancer’s progression in patients that already have it. The use of selenium during chemotherapy in combination with vitamin E and vitamin A reduces the toxicity of chemotherapy drugs. The mineral also helps enhance the effectiveness of chemo, radiation, and hyperthermia while minimizing damage to the patient’s normal cells.
The mineral not only help protect against all types of cancer, it has a particularly powerful impact on prostate, colorectal and lung cancers.
If our bodies have to high an intake of selenium it can actually be toxic to our system, but the majority of us are not getting enough of this essential mineral. Since this is the case, how can we get a good balance so as not to overdo but make sure we are getting enough to help our bodies fight cancer? There are some good dietary sources of selenium such as mushrooms, egg yolks, seafood, poultry and kidney, liver and muscle meats. Vegetables like garlic, onions, broccoli, asparagus, tomatoes and others as well as whole grains and seeds can also be good sources of selenium.
The amount of selenium in vegetables and grains depends on the selenium content in the soil in which they are grown. The selenium content is largely dependent on the content of volcanic ash in the soil on which the food was grown, with higher volcanic ash content yielding higher selenium levels.
Suggestions as to part of the reason American men are five times more likely than Japanese men to die from prostate cancer could be because, in general, the Asian diet contains four times the amount of selenium as the average American diet. Another reason for lack of selenium in the American diet is the processing that many of our foods go through before it becomes available to the public. One way to get more selenium in your diet might be to eat more organically grown foods, which some studies have shown to contain more selenium as well as higher levels of beta carotene and vitamin E.
Simply adding more selenium-rich foods, such as organically grown vegetables and fruits to your diet, along with supplements, can help reduce your risk of cancer and have mood improvements.
Try implementing a couple of Brazil nuts into your day, eating just one shelled Brazil nut, grown in the selenium-rich soil of central Brazil, provides 120 micrograms of the mineral, getting you that much closer to the daily target of 200 micrograms.
So go ahead, have some Brazil nuts during the holiday season, you deserve it.