Effects of dietary selenium on UVB-induced skin carcinogenesis and epidermal antioxidant status

J Invest Dermatol. 1994 May;102(5):759-61. doi: 10.1111/1523-1747.ep12377571.


Low plasma selenium levels have been linked to increased risk of non-melanoma skin cancer in humans. The present study examined the relationship between selenium level in the diet and development of skin tumors induced by ultraviolet radiation in female Skh:HR-1 hairless mice. Animals were maintained on a torula yeast-based diet containing either 0, 0.1, or 0.5 mg/kg selenium as Na2SeO3. Ultraviolet light at a dose of 90 mJ/cm2, three times weekly for 20 weeks, resulted in skin tumors in all groups. Following cessation of ultraviolet light exposure, tumors continued to increase in selenium-deficient mice and those fed only 0.1 mg/kg, but leveled off for those on 0.5 mg/kg. During the carcinogenesis process, epidermal antioxidant enzymes catalase, superoxide dismutase, and glutathione peroxidase were monitored. Selenium deficiency decreased glutathione peroxidase and resulted in an early increase in superoxide dismutase and catalase in response to ultraviolet light treatment. These results indicate that dietary Se may be an important chemopreventive agent for skin cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / analysis*
  • Body Weight
  • Catalase / metabolism
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Food
  • Glutathione Peroxidase / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Hairless
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / etiology*
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / pathology
  • Selenium / administration & dosage
  • Selenium / deficiency
  • Selenium / pharmacology*
  • Skin / chemistry*
  • Skin / enzymology
  • Skin Neoplasms / etiology
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Superoxide Dismutase / metabolism
  • Ultraviolet Rays* / adverse effects


  • Antioxidants
  • Catalase
  • Glutathione Peroxidase
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Selenium