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Selenium May Help Reset Cells' Biological Clock

Findings from animal study could ultimately help prevent breast cancer

WEDNESDAY, April 28 (HealthDay News) -- Dietary selenium can help re-establish circadian rhythms critical to the growth and behavior of cells that have been disrupted by carcinogenic agents, according to an animal study published online April 27 in Cancer Prevention Research.

Ming Zhu Fang, M.D., of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Piscataway, and colleagues randomized 42 female rats to consume either a methylselenocysteine-enriched diet or a standardized control diet for 30 days after having been injected with a single carcinogenic dose of N-nitroso-N-methylurea (NMU) to determine the effect of NMU on core circadian genes and circadian-controlled genes and the effect methylselenocysteine-rich diet has on those alterations.

The researchers found that NMU disrupted the expression of core circadian genes and circadian-controlled genes, including a melatonin receptor, estrogen receptors and growth-regulatory genes in the rats' mammary glands. Dietary methylselenocysteine, however, significantly enhanced the circadian expression of most of those genes, although it had no significant impact on the circadian expression of genes in the liver.

"These results suggest that dietary methylselenocysteine counteracted the disruptive effect of NMU on circadian expression of genes essential to normal mammary cell growth and differentiation," the authors write.

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