When first discovered in 1817, selenium was thought to be a poison. In the 1957 it was accepted as an essential trace mineral. And now it has become a “hidden superstar” among nutrients. You probably first learned about selenium in high school chemistry class, but did you know that it is just about the cheapest “anti-cancer” pill you can buy? It is believed that the first medical application of selenium was documented by Dr. August von Wasserman, who discovered (in 1911) that selenite injected into mouse cancer tumors caused them to decompose. In the 1970’s, studies by Dr. Gerhard Schrauzer produced a 70% reduction in breast cancer tumors by adding trace amounts of selenium to the diet.
Then, a study of over 1000 healthy men (published in May 2004 Journal of the National Cancer Institute) showed that men with high blood levels of selenium had a 50% reduction in prostate cancer rates. But selenium not only helps improve the immune system against cancer cells, but it also fights bacterial and viral infections as well as herpes virus, cold sores, and shingles. Selenium also benefits the skin during healing following burn injuries. Shampoo with selenium may alleviate dandruff problems. For skin care, selenium’s antioxidant properties regenerate vitamins E and C, thereby decreasing the aging of skin.
Selenium deficiency is increasingly associated with adverse health conditions and even life-threatening diseases. People who live in selenium-poor regions of the world suffer from dramatically increased rates of cancer, infections, and inflammatory diseases. Selenium can be found in Brazil nuts, poultry, seafood, and meats, while significant amounts are also found in oats and brown rice.