The relationship between selenium levels and breast cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Biol Trace Elem Res. 2014 Jun;159(1-3):1-7. doi: 10.1007/s12011-014-9998-3. Epub 2014 May 25.


Breast cancer is the most common cancer type. In several studies, hints have been provided that there is a correlation between selenium deficiency and the incidence of breast cancer. Findings of these published reports are, however, inconsistent. This study serves as a pioneering study aiming at combining the results of studies using a meta-analytic method. A total of 16 articles published between 1980 and 2012 worldwide were selected through searching PubMed, Scopus, and Google scholar databases, and the information were analyzed using a meta-analytic method [random effects model]. I (2) statistics were used to examine heterogeneity. The information was then analyzed by STATA version 12. In this study, due to the non-uniform methods used to measure selenium concentrations, selenium levels were measured in the various subgroups in both case and control groups. There were significant correlations between selenium concentration and breast cancer [P<0.05]. Hence, the mean risk differentiating criteria were estimated to be 0.63 [95% confidence interval [95% CI] 0.93 to 0.32] in serum and toenails. Subgroup analysis showed that the value in toenails was -0.07 [95% CI -0.16 to 0.03] and in serum -1.04 [95% CI 1.71 to -0.38]. In studies in which selenium concentrations were measured in serum, a significant correlation was observed between selenium concentration and breast cancer. In contrast, in studies in which selenium concentration was measured in toenails, the correlation was not significant. Therefore, the selenium concentration can be used as one predictor for breast cancer.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / blood*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Nails / chemistry
  • Selenium / analysis
  • Selenium / blood*


  • Selenium