(Se)e why you need Selenium!

According to the National Cancer Institute, 1 in 8 women born in the United States today will develop breast cancer at some point in their lifetime. 

Let that sink in for a minute. 1 in 8 women. 

And if that statistic isn’t scary enough, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, following lung cancer. 

Unfortunately, breast cancer seems to be caused by a complex interaction of our genetic makeup and environment, and while we can’t change our genes, we can alter our environment to some degree. 

We can lower our risk of developing breast cancer, and many other diseases, by living a healthy, active lifestyle; staying at a healthy weight; limiting alcohol consumption; and staying physically active.

Studies also suggest that adding specific vitamins and minerals to our diet can help our bodies stave off disease, and reduce the risk of developing certain cancers.

This is where selenium comes in. 

But before we get there – it’s time for a quick science lesson on free radicals…

Free radicals are molecules that have an uneven number of electrons, which means they can easily react with other molecules in the body. Imagine tiny tennis balls with 3 hands, and every hand wants to hold another hand. It’s chaos! These free radicals can cause chain reactions in the body because they react so easily in their quest to pair up. 

Now, free radicals are simply a by-product of certain metabolic functions in the body, and they aren’t much of a problem – our bodies are equipped to handle them. However, a wide range of external factors increases the number of free radicals in our bodies, and this is where the problem comes in. 

Our bodies, which have systems in place to neutralize the small amount of free radicals that they naturally create, are suddenly bombarded with external free radicals from the environment – exposure to X-rays, ozone, cigarette smoke, air pollutants and industrial chemicals, just to name a few. And surprise surprise…these free radicals lower our immunity and are linked to causing disease and cancer. 

Do you see where I am going with this? 

Selenium is a mineral found naturally in the soil, as well as in Brazil nuts, meat, eggs, seafood, cereals, and grains. It’s an antioxidant, which means it actively fights free radicals in the body and neutralizes them. 

Studies show that supplementing with selenium may decrease one’s risk for developing certain cancers, including prostate, colon, gastrointestinal, lung and breast cancer. One study found that supplementing with selenium may also reduce treatment-related lymphedema, hair loss, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite in ovarian cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. 

Selenium also supports healthy thyroid function, may reduce cognitive decline (again, caused by oxidative stress and free radical damage), may boost the immune system, and may reduce inflammation in the body. 

Supplementing with Selenium is just one of the many ways we can help keep our bodies strong and healthy. 

Fontelles CC, Ong TP. Selenium and Breast Cancer Risk: Focus on Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms. Adv Cancer Res. 2017;136:173-192. doi: 10.1016/bs.acr.2017.08.001. Epub 2017 Sep 21. PMID: 29054418.

Flowers B, Poles A, Kastrati I. Selenium and breast cancer – An update of clinical and epidemiological data. Arch Biochem Biophys. 2022 Dec 15;732:109465. doi: 10.1016/j.abb.2022.109465. Epub 2022 Nov 13. PMID: 36379313.

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