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Racial Differences Found in Serum Selenium Levels

Epidemiologic study suggests possible link between racial disparities seen in selenium and cancer

TUESDAY, Aug. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Black patients have mean serum selenium levels that are lower than whites, according to a study in the August issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology. Low concentrations of selenium have been associated with a greater risk of prostate and other cancers, which may explain some of the racial variation in cancer rates.

Tara Vogt, Ph.D., and colleagues at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., analyzed serologic and interview data from 10,779 black and white subjects aged 12 or older who participated in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Whites had serum selenium concentrations of 126.35 ng/mL, while blacks had a mean concentration of 118.76 ng/mL. Before adjustment, the racial gap was about 6 percent, which dropped to 3 percent after adjustment for factors known to affect selenium.

"Low intake of selenium has been suggested as a potential risk factor for several major cancers," the authors note. "It is provocative that, relative to U.S. whites, U.S. blacks have both lower concentrations of serum selenium and higher incidence rates of cancer overall and cancers of the prostate, colorectum, and lung."

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