Selenium in breast cancer

Oncology. 2003;64(3):227-31. doi: 10.1159/000069312.


Aim: Controversy surrounds the hypothetical relationship between low serum levels of selenium and reduced activity of selenium-dependent enzymes, such as glutathione peroxidase, and an increased risk of cancer in humans. This study investigated serum concentrations of selenium in women with and without breast cancer.

Methods: In this case-control study, we compared serum concentrations of selenium in women with breast cancer (n = 200), healthy women (n = 100), and women with chronic diseases (n = 100). Patients with breast cancer were divided into premenopausal (n = 99) and postmenopausal subjects (n = 101).

Results: Mean serum concentrations of selenium were 81.1 microg/l in women with breast cancer and 98.5 microg/l in women with non-tumoral disease (p < 0.001).

Conclusion: Alterations in serum concentrations of selenium in women with breast cancer appear to be a consequence, rather than a cause of cancer. In accordance with the hypothesis, the findings suggest that very low selenium status could be due to the nature of cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / blood*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Postmenopause
  • Premenopause
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Selenium / blood*


  • Selenium