Neglected opportunities

January 15, 2021

“The world is groping blindly for defences against the new virus variants” – according to a headline in the Danish newspaper Berlingske January 12th. The article then deals with gene sequencing and rapid diagnostics for infection control. But it is clear that panic spreads every time a new variant appears.

The fumbling in the dark began with clusters 1-5 found in Danish mink, which led to politician panic and the most drastic coercive intervention so far against any business in Denmark and the total closure of the region Vendsyssel.

The next time the panic screw was increased is now that the English variant B 1.1.7 is spreading. It is not more dangerous, but more contagious.

When the panic and anxiety from this variant begin to subside, then it’s time to introduce the South African variant and gravely tell us that this variant can now hit children, and then shut the country down. It is so deeply predictable that we absolutely must be pressed down into a state of chronic anxiety so that we conform to what is expected, and all of us line up for vaccination.

However, it is a good thing that the vaccines have arrived. The first vaccine was received by the media and politicians like a Messiah, and it was very nearly close to rose petals being sprinkled on the road in front of the trucks.

It is excellent that the health authorities quickly have launched vaccinating the elderly and seriously ill at risk. So far so good.

But my goodness, how they could have done so much good in the 10 months that have passed if they had listened to science.

When you consider that in order to shop in the supermarket Netto you have to look like a bank robber and wear a face mask whose effect is extremely poorly documented; -then it is striking that for months the authorities have turned a blind eye to well-documented opportunities that could have saved many lives and much suffering.

A study recently published in the Lancet (1) reviewed 89,000 hospitalizations with Covid-19 in March-April 2020 and Influenza Dec-Jan 2017-18.

It was found that Covid-19 caused significantly longer length of stay and greater mortality than the flu and it was concluded that in the future every effort should be made to prevent and vaccinate as well as find methods for treating Covid-19.

The Vital Council can only agree on this 3-string strategy: prevent, vaccinate, find ways to treat.

Unfortunately, this is not the strategy the government has chosen. Instead, they have chosen to put all their eggs in one basket.
Ever since the start of the pandemic, there has been hope and talk about the upcoming vaccine.
The authorities have been going all in, bone-hard, on the vaccine and only the vaccine and have not even wanted to squint at the other options in the three-stringed strategy mentioned above.

You can therefore understand the panic of the politicians until they were reassured that the mink variant was probably also sensitive to the upcoming vaccine. The same has now happened with B 1.1.7 from England, while we are still unsure of the South African variant.
That is to say the vaccines may in the future have difficulty keeping up with the constant changes in the highly mutated RNA virus, and one day they will fall short.

Yet all measures other than vaccines have been swept off the table despite massive documentation.
It is as if the authorities have overlooked that we humans actually have an immune system that is itself capable of adapting a new virus mutant.
Unlike a vaccine, a well-functioning immune system will be able to keep up every time a virus mutates.

Of course, it is necessary for the immune system to function optimally, and it ris necessary that we humans get a diet with the nutrients that the immune system needs.

This is so obvious that it hurts to say over and over again (see 5 previous newsletters from May 2020):
Decades of scientific evidence show that deficiency of especially vitamins A, C, D and K as well as deficiency of selenium, magnesium and zinc weakens the immune response and increases the incidence of infections, especially lung diseases. (2-10)

Specifically, in recent years there has been extensive writing about vitamin D, and the University of Copenhagen wrote almost prophetically on March 7, 2020, on its website in the News section: “Vitamin D is absolutely crucial for the immune system.”

Since then, several studies have been performed on vitamin D against Covid-19, which show significantly less infectivity, shorter hospital stays, milder illness, and lower mortality. (11-17) This documentation is further strengthened by the fact that the groups that are low in Vitamin D are those most affected by Covid-19, especially overweight persons, nursing home residents, immigrants, the chronically ill, and the elderly.

Traditionally, here in Denmark we have considered it sufficient, as long as the serum vitamin D (25-hydroxyvitamin D) level was 50 nmol/L (20 ng/ml) or more. This is not enough. All studies point to the need to have at least 75 nmol/L (30 ng/ml) in the blood and preferably 150 nmol/L (60 ng/ml.)
Far less than half of the Danish population are within these figures.
You cannot reach this preferred level, even if you then eat fatty fish every single day; you have to take supplements.
In turn, there is a major health benefit in eliminating the population’s deficiency of vitamin D. -Not only in the face of several of the major lifestyle diseases, but also of Covid-19.

Research shows, as mentioned, that sufficient vitamin D will shorten the duration of the disease, avoid hospitalizations, and reduce mortality from covid-19 disease. Those who become ill will simply have a mild course of the disease but will still build up immunological defenses until the next time they encounter it. If you also make sure that there is no shortage of the other above-mentioned vitamins and minerals, then the disease picture will look completely different in this country, and it could put a damper on the all-consuming anxiety and worry in the population.

Note: There is no talk of these vitamins and minerals being used to “treat” anything. They are used to correct deficiencies.

But it requires the authorities to think outside the box and show openness to the well-documented possibilities that exist here. Especially when these options are safe.
It is fine to think of collective infection control, but it does not preclude that one also thinks of the individual’s immune system and its well-being.

There has been an unfortunate streak of overlooked possibilities throughout the 10-month-long corona course. Opportunities that could have saved many lives and saved many sufferings.
-And these are, mind you, options that are significantly better documented than face masks.

Take care of yourself and others.

Claus Hancke MD
Specialist in general medicine


1. Comparison of the characteristics, morbidity, and mortality of COVID-19 and seasonal influenza: a nationwide, population-based retrospective cohort study. Piroth L et al, Dec.2020, Lancet.

2. Arvinte C, Singh M, Marik PE (2020) Serum Levels of Vitamin C and Vitamin D in a Cohort of Critically Ill COVID-19 Patients of a North American Community Hospital Intensive Care Unit in May 2020: A Pilot Study. Med Drug Discov. 8:100064.

3. Hewison M. Vitamin D and innate and adaptive immunity. Vitam Horm, 2011; vol 86:23-62.

4. Gombart AF, Pierre A, Maggini S. A Review of Micronutrients and the Immune System-Working in Harmony to Reduce the Risk of Infection. Nutrients. 2020 Jan 16;12(1).

5. Schwalfenberg GK. A review of the critical role of vitamin D in the functioning of the immune system and the clinical implications of vitamin D deficiency. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2011 Jan;55(1):96-108.

6. Dancer RC, Parekh D, Lax S, D’Souza V, Zheng S1, Bassford CR, et al. Vitamin D deficiency contributes directly to the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Thorax. 2015 Jul;70(7):617-24.

7. Urashima M, Segawa T, Okazaki M, et al. Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 May;91(5):1255-60.

8. Sabetta JR, DePetrillo P, Cipriani RJ, Smardin J, Burns LA, Landry ML. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin d and the incidence of acute viral respiratory tract infections in healthy adults. PLoS One. 2010 Jun 14;5(6):e11088.

9. Uwitonze AM, Razzaque MS. Role of Magnesium in Vitamin D Activation and Function. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2018 Mar 1;118(3):181-189.

10. Dofferhoff A et al, Reduced Vitamin K Status as a Potentially Modifiable Risk Factor of Severe Coronavirus Disease 2019, Clin Infect Diseases, 2021,

11. Kohlmeier M. Avoidance of vitamin D deficiency to slow the COVID-19 pandemic. BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health. 2020;3.

12. Grant WB, Lahore H, McDonnell SL, et al. Evidence that Vitamin D Supplementation Could Reduce Risk of Influenza and COVID-19 Infections and Deaths. Nutrients. 2020; 12(4):988.

13. McCartney DM, Byrne DG. Optimisation of Vitamin D Status for Enhanced Immuno-protection Against Covid-19. Ir Med J. 2020 Apr 3;113(4):58.

14. Aldridge RA, Lewer D, Beale S, et al. Seasonality and immunity to laboratory-confirmed seasonal coronaviruses (HCoV-NL63, HCoV-0C43, and HCoV-229E): results from the Flu Watch cohort study 30 March 2020.

15. Ilie PC, Stefanescu S, Smith L. The role of Vitamin D in the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019, infection and mortality. Aging Clinical and Experimental research ( Springer Switzerland. 2020 May 6.

16. McCullough PJ, Lehrer DS, Amend J. Daily oral dosing of vitamin D3 using 5000 TO 50,000 international units a day in long-term hospitalized patients: Insights from a seven year experience. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2019 May;189:228-239.

17. Kaufman H et al, SARS-CoV-2 positivity rates associated with circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels PLOS ONE, sept.17,2020

More is not always better

November 13, 2020

Dose response is diverse

Our body and cells react differently to the chemical substances we come into contact with. Our body’s reaction (response) to different concentrations (doses) is called dose-response. Small variations in the structure of substances can be decisive for the body’s reaction to the substances. For several groups of substances, it is known that they can be problematic, but theoretically it is not possible to predict how cells or organisms will react to a chemical substance.

As low doses of chemical substances are studied scientifically, more and more otherwise well-known substances are shown to have unexpected effects at low doses. Since the early 1990s, it has been clear that one cannot theoretically – based on a general dose-response formula – predict the response of cells to low concentrations of a substance.

In everyday life, we regularly experience that there is a linear relationship between dose and effect: Twice as much sugar tastes twice as sweet. Such is the case with the drugs and within the doses we normally use. The graph to the right shows 0-4 teaspoons of sugar in the coffee. It is the linear dose-response that we know best and that we often take for granted in daily life

From everyday life we also know of a decreasing effect on a larger dose. Double the dose of sugar in the coffee does not keep giving double effect. When the tongue’s sensation of sweetness is completely filled, an extra dose cannot be sensed. The body’s relationship to a variety of vitamins and minerals works in the same way. The graph to the right shows the experience of sweetness at 1-14 teaspoons of sugar in coffee.

Many substances first have a measurable effect above a certain threshold value as is known from e.g. alcohol. Below the threshold, no poisoning occurs – if you drink an alcoholic beverage with 7,5 ml or 6 grams of alcohol per hour, it has no effect, but if you drink an alcoholic beverage with 30 ml or 24 grams of alcohol per hour, you exceed the liver’s threshold value for continuously breaking down alcohol, after which alcohol continuously accumulates in the blood and you become drunk.

Some substances used as medicines inhibit processes in the body, so that higher doses inhibit the process more, but only within certain limits. With increasing dose, the inhibitory effect diminishes and eventually disappears. Well-known examples are statins, which lower the blood’s cholesterol content, and drugs that inhibit the stomach’s production of stomach acid.

Some drugs, including several hormones, have a bell-shaped dose-response curve. In addition to the fact that the substances are often active at very low doses, they are also only active within a “window”, so that they have a hormone-like or endocrine disrupting effect above a certain concentration, and then lose effect at higher concentrations. Several hormones and more proteins tested for cancer treatment have this type of dose-response (Reynolds, 2010; Diamond, 2004).

Some drugs have a U-shaped effect curve, so that the drug has a stimulating effect at low doses, but with decreasing effect at slightly higher doses, and then again has a stimulating effect at even higher doses. Several drugs with U-shaped dose-response curves are endocrine disruptors, or promote or inhibit cancer. (Almstrup et al., 2002; Davis & Svendsgaard 1990 and Vadenberg et al., 2012).

Living organisms – including humans – are extremely complex, and the “unexpected” types of non-linear toxic effects can e.g. is due to interactions where a chemical substance can affect sensors on or in the cells, immune reactions, enzymes in the liver, etc.,

In addition, the toxic effects of substances on humans can be determined by individual and often inherited genetic differences. For heavy metals such as mercury and copper, both individual differences and non-linear relationships are known (Andreoli & Sprovieri, 2017; O’Doherty et al., 2019).

In scientific research, organisms’ reactions to chemical substances are often assumed to be linear, so that researchers look for linear relationships without actually knowing if they are relevant. Non-linear contexts are also often overlooked in authorities’ risk assessments of substances. Overall, this means that researchers and authorities often disregard the toxic effects of substances on the basis of a rationale that when a clear toxic effect at low doses was not found at higher doses – well then one can simply ignore these results.

In the EU’s risk assessments of pesticides, GMOs, etc. one often disregards the concrete measurements or experiments that do not meet the requirement of linear and increasing toxicity at higher doses.

Not least Danish researchers such as Almstrup, Grandjean, Skakkebæk and Svendsgaard have helped to focus on non-linear dose response and toxic effects at low and extremely low doses. The same researchers are generally not impressed by the authorities’ ability or willingness to take this new knowledge seriously (Grandjean 2019, Hill et al 2018, Davis and Svendsgaard 1990); – neither is the Vitality Council.

Klaus Sall, cand.scient. in biology

References and further reading

Almstrup K; Fernández MF; Petersen JH; Olea N; Skakkebaek NE and Leffers H. (2002). Dual effects of phytoestro­gens result in u-shaped dose-response curves. Environ Health Perspect. 2002 August; 110(8): 743–748. LINK
Andreoli, V., Sprovieri, F., (2017). Genetic Aspects of Susceptibility to Mercury Toxicity: An Overview. Int J Environ Res Public Health 14. LINK
Davis JM og Svendsgaard DJ. 1990 U-shaped dose-response curves: their occurrence and implications for risk assessment. J Toxicol Environ Health. 1990 Jun;30(2):71-83. LINK
Diamond, D. M. 2004. Enhancement of Cognitive and Electrophysiological Measures of Hippocampal Functioning in Rats by a Low, But Not High, Dose of Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate (DHEAS). Nonlin. Biol. Toxicol. Med. 2004 Oct.; 2(4): 371–377. LINK
Grandjean, P., Abdennebi-Najar, L., Barouki, R., Cranor, C. F., Etzel, R. A., Gee, D., Heindel, J. J., Hougaard, K. S., Hunt, P., Nawrot, T. S., Prins, G. S., Ritz, B., Soffritti, M., Sunyer, J., & Weihe, P. (2019). Time scales of developmental toxicity impacting on research and needs for intervention. Basic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology, 125(Suppl. 3), 70-80. LINK
Hill C. E., Myers J. P., Vandenberg L. N. (2018). Nonmonotonic dose-response curves occur in dose ranges that are relevant to regulatory decision-making. Dose Res. 16, 155932581879828. 1559325818798282–82. LINK
Lagarde, F., Beausoleil, C., Belcher, S. M., Belzunces, L. P., Emond, C., Guerbet, M., & Rousselle, C. (2015). Non-monotonic dose-response relationships and endocrine disruptors: a qualitative method of assessment. Environmental health 14, 13 (2015), LINK
Montévil M, Acevedo N, Schaeberle CM, Bharadwaj M, Fenton SE, and Ana M. Soto AM. 2020. A Combined Morphometric and Statistical Approach to Assess Nonmonotonicity in the Developing Mammary Gland of Rats in the CLARITY-BPA Study. Environ Health Perspect. 2020 May; 128(5):57001. LINK
Reynolds, Andrew R. 2010. Potential Relevance of Bell-Shaped and U-Shaped Dose-Responses for the Therapeutic Targeting of Angiogenesis in Cancer. Dose Response. 2010; 8(3): 253–284. LINK
O’Doherty, C., Keenan, J., Horgan, K., Murphy, R., O’Sullivan, F., Clynes, M., 2019. Copper-induced non-monotonic dose response in Caco-2 cells. In Vitro Cell.Dev.Biol.-Animal 55, 221–225. LINK
Vandenberg et al. 2012. Hormones and Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals: Low-Dose Effects and Nonmonotonic Dose Responses. Endocrine Reviews March 14, 2012 er.2011-1050 LINK
Zoeller RT, Brown TR, Doan LL, Gore AC, Skakkebaek NE, Soto AM, Woodruff TJ, Vom Saal FS. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals and public health protection: a statement of principles from The Endocrine Society. Endocrinology 2012; 153:4097 – 110; LINK

Mink panic in Denmark

November 5, 2020

As written in the first Covid-19 newsletter on May 6 (1):

”A vaccine may be excellent, but firstly, it takes at least a year before we have it, and secondly, a vaccine can never keep up with a virus in the many mutations that make its immune profile so varied that a vaccine quickly becomes obsolete as we have seen with the flu vaccine. The only thing that can keep up in response against a virus’ mutations is a well-functioning immune system in the individual.”

And now what has been expected has happened, namely a mutation that spreads a lot of panic, costs 17 million mink their lives, 1,100 mink farmers their livelihood and perhaps life’s work, 6,000 jobs, and Denmark 10 billion kroner in export revenue.

Many ask if this is now also necessary, and international researchers wonder about the Danish reaction, as they cannot see that this mutation is more dangerous than so many other mutations.

In the defense of the authorities, it can be said that 17 million mink do constitute a very serious pool of infection within the country’s borders, and, on mink farms, the virus can persist for years and can perhaps mutate into dangerous varieties.

The current “cluster-5 variant” found in mink is, according to authorities, no more dangerous than the “original Wuhan variant”, but is still considered dangerous by the Serum Institute.

Not more dangerous for humans, but dangerous for the vaccine.

It is feared that this variant will weaken the effect of a future coronary vaccine.
But there will be more mutations. It will continue. If not from domesticated mink, then from forest marten, ermine (stoats), otters, and ferrets. Or what about a variant of the dreaded bird flu that becomes contagious to humans? It is a far more dangerous situation.

If we continue with this eternal focus on vaccines and only vaccines, we can run in circles for decades and constantly have to jump from one position to another to escape new mutant variants.

At the EU level, however, hard work is underway to make human survival dependent on vaccines (2) so that the individual’s immune system can only be strengthened in this way and not by natural infection.

This is a dangerous path to take, and it can result in an inflicted immunological handicap that weakens humanity’s ability to counteract precisely the many mutations that microorganisms undergo in their own evolution.

One can imagine the situation that one day we will be exposed to a life-threatening pandemic like in 1918, which kills millions of people the year before we can get a vaccine. (The current pandemic has not increased overall mortality.)

We therefore need to ensure that the human population’s basic immune system is optimal. It may be possible to do so, but it requires openness to new thinking.

When we focus exclusively on the Covid-19 epidemic, there is an almost overwhelming number of studies that identify vitamin D deficiency as a significant risk factor for infection.

Most recently, three days ago (November 2), a new study (3) was published describing Covid-19 survival in the elderly as a function of their vitamin D intake.
There were 77 Covid-19 patients aged 78 – 100 years equally distributed between men and women. All were admitted to a geriatric emergency department at Angers University Hospital in France from March to May in 2020.

One could see the difference between the three groups: Group 1 (n=29) had taken vitamin D continuously for at least one year, group 2 (n=16) had not taken anything but had received a bolus dose of vitamin D on admission, and group 3 (n=32) had not received vitamin D.

The thrtee groups were comparable over a wide range of potentially confounding factors. The average age of the study participants was 88 years.

Researchers evaluated 14-day mortality and found that 93% survived in group 1, 81% in group 2, and 68% in group 3.

With group 3 as the reference group (Hazard Ratio: 1), group 1 thus had a hazard ratio of 0.07, and group 2 had a hazard ratio of 0.37.

Thus, group 1 with a history of solid vitamin D supplementation had significantly better survival than group 3, which had not taken vitamin D supplements.

Group 2, which received a bolus of 80,000 IU vitamin D at admission, had better survival, but the difference from group 3 survival was not statistically significant.

The conclusion of this study was thus that regular supplementation with vitamin D is associated with less severe COVID-19 disease and better survival in frail elderly individuals. The detailed figures can be seen in the reference below (3).

Study after study of vitamin D’s efficacy has been added to the basket over the last six months, and the studies are all identical. How many studies do we need?

When these studies are combined with the hundreds of previous studies on immune system weakening in the absence of vitamin D and with the even specific studies and a meta-analysis on lung infections like SARS, then one must again ask: How many studies does it take before the authorities will advise vulnerable groups to take vitamin D or at least to have their vitamin D levels in their blood measured?

Many studies (references 4-19) show that one can safely and effectively optimize the population’s resistance and survival of Covid-19 by taking sufficient vitamin D to reach a blood concentration of at least 75nmol / l.

This blood vitamin D concentration can most often be achieved with a daily dose of 80 – 100 micrograms.

If one also supplements with the other well-documented supplements, which have been mentioned in the previous newsletters, then we can get to the point that the general resistance of the population has increased. We need to increase the population’s resistance against the upcoming mutations of Covid-19 and also against other epidemics, which may even be dangerous.

But, for now, remember to wash your hands and keep your distance.

Take care of yourself and others.

Claus Hancke MD
Specialist in general medicine


  3. Annweiler G et al. Vitamin D Supplementation Associated to Better Survival in Hospitalized Frail Elderly COVID-19 Patients: The GERIA-COVID Quasi-Experimental Study. Nutrients. 2020 Nov;12: 3377 1-12.
  4. Hewison M. Vitamin D and innate and adaptive immunity. Vitam Horm, 2011; vol 86:23-62.
  5. Gombart AF, Pierre A, Maggini S. A Review of Micronutrients and the Immune System-Working in Harmony to Reduce the Risk of Infection. Nutrients. 2020 Jan 16;12(1).
  6. Schwalfenberg GK. A review of the critical role of vitamin D in the functioning of the immune system and the clinical implications of vitamin D deficiency. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2011 Jan;55(1):96-108.
  7. Dancer RC, Parekh D, Lax S, D’Souza V, Zheng S1, Bassford CR, et al. Vitamin D deficiency contributes directly to the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Thorax. 2015 Jul;70(7):617-24.
  8. Urashima M, Segawa T, Okazaki M, et al. Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 May;91(5):1255-60.
  9. Sabetta JR, DePetrillo P, Cipriani RJ, Smardin J, Burns LA, Landry ML. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin d and the incidence of acute viral respiratory tract infections in healthy adults. PLoS One. 2010 Jun 14;5(6):e11088.
  10. Uwitonze AM, Razzaque MS. Role of Magnesium in Vitamin D Activation and Function. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2018 Mar 1;118(3):181-189.
  11. Valint S. Vitamin D and Obesity. Nutrients. 2013 Mar; 5(3): 949–956.
  12. McCartney DM, Byrne DG. Optimisation of Vitamin D Status for Enhanced Immuno-protection Against Covid-19. Ir Med J. 2020 Apr 3;113(4):58.
  13. Grant WB, Lahore H, McDonnell SL, Baggerly CA, French CB, Aliano JL, Bhattoa HP. Evidence that Vitamin D Supplementation Could Reduce Risk of Influenza and COVID-19 Infections and Deaths. Nutrients. 2020 Apr 2;12(4). pii: E988.
  14. Aldridge RA, Lewer D, Beale S, et al. Seasonality and immunity to laboratory-confirmed seasonal coronaviruses (HCoV-NL63, HCoV-0C43, and HCoV-229E): results from the Flu Watch cohort study 30 March 2020.
  15. McCullough PJ, Lehrer DS, Amend J. Daily oral dosing of vitamin D3 using 5000 TO 50,000 international units a day in long-term hospitalized patients: Insights from a seven year experience. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2019 May;189:228-239.
  16. Ilie PC, Stefanescu S, Smith L. The role of Vitamin D in the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019, infection and mortality. Aging Clinical and Experimental research ( Springer Switzerland. 2020 May 6.
  17. Martineau A, Forouhi N (2020) Vitamin-D for Covid-19: a case to answer. Lancet 2020;8:735-6.
  18. Joliffe D, Martineau A, Damsgaard Camilla et al. (2020) Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory infections: Systematic review and meta-analysis of aggregate data from randomised controlled trials. medRxiv BMJ 17.juli 2020.
  19. Martineau A et al. (2017) Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: Systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data.
    BMJ 2017;356:i6585.

Update on Corona virus

August 26, 2020

Since the last newsletter from May 28, things have gone well here in Denmark.
On the other hand, viruses have become widespread, especially in those countries that have not taken the spreading of infection seriously.
In the past month, however, localized infection clusters have emerged in various places here in Denmark as well, especially in immigrant communities.
The reasons for this have been mentioned in the previous newsletters, whose advice is still valid, so I will not repeat it here, but instead focus on what has happened in the last 3 months.

In a literature study(1) from Norwegian, Russian and Swedish public health institutes six researchers have concluded that early intervention with Zinc, Selenium and Vitamin-D can alleviate the course of the disease, and virtually prevent the cytokine storm, which is the process responsible for the destruction of tissues, microthromboses, inflammation, etc. -the whole cascade that can take the life of the Covid-19 sick persons.

An almost simultaneous study(2) from Germany analyzed Serum-Selenium and Serum-Selenoprotein P, and both values were significantly lower in those who did not survive Covid-19.
(Selenium: 53.3 ± 16.2 vs. 40.8 ± 8.1 μg / l, Selenoprotein-P: 3.3 ± 1.3 vs. 2.1 ± 0.9 mg / L p<0.001). These results must be said to be highly relevant in our country, where we consume so little selenium. This study falls nicely in line with the former study.

On August 3, an article was published in the Lancet(3) which strongly calls for increased intake of vitamin D based on solid literature reviews.
This also falls in line with the first study mentioned above.

And, finally, there is a meta-analysis(4) of the role of vitamin D in the development of acute respiratory infection. It includes 30,000 people in controlled trials (RCTs), and has shown significantly reduced risk of acute respiratory infection already at 10-25 µg of vitamin D daily.
This confirms a previous meta-analysis(5), which also found a significant inverse correlation between the risk of acute respiratory infection and the vitamin D content in the blood.
All of the above studies are nicely in line with the advice mentioned in the five newsletters from May.

Authorities distribute vitamins
Azerbaijan has registered 35,000 Covid-19 cases in a population of 10 million. Of these, 1,800 were hospitalized and 508 died.
Here, the Ministry of Health has provided more than 3,500 Covid-19 patients with a free “medicine package” containing: Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Magnesium, Selenium, Zinc and Paracetamol.
The idea is then that the patients stay at home and treat themselves there.
Every day they are then contacted by the local hospital clinic and have to answer a series of questions, just as the doctor checks that they are taking their pills.
So far, a significant reduction in the number of hospitalizations in this group has been observed(6).

You can only shout cheers when you see authorities who can think outside the box and dare to start such a project. My guess is that the trend will continue and that home treatment will continue to reduce hospital admissions in Azerbaijan.

The idea is not bad because you initiate a completely harmless treatment of a, for some people, -dangerous disease.
But why wait until they get sick?

With timely care, one can improve the immune system of the entire population if one simply provides information about these supplements and their significance.

What could be done here in Denmark is to provide subsidies to the vulnerable groups, especially residents of the country’s nursing homes, who are completely dependent on the public perception of vitamins and minerals. If their own doctor does not prescribe a vitamin supplement, then residents are often denied help to get the supplements, despite their own desire. They are completely dependent upon the doctor’s knowledge or lack thereof. I think Danish authorities and medical staff would be shocked if we measured the level of vitamin D in the country’s nursing home residents.
If you do not want to use public funds to donate these subsidies to the residents, then you can at least make sure that both residents and their relatives are informed.

These newsletters on Covid-19 are unfortunately necessary as this knowledge and the scientific back-up are neglected in the public advice to the Danish population.

Take care of yourself and others

Claus Hancke MD
Specialist in general medicine


  1. Alexander J, Alehagen U et al. (2020) Early Nutritional Interventions with Zinc, Selenium and Vitamin D for Raising Anti-Viral Resistance Against Progressive COVID-19. Nutrients 2020, 12, 2358.
  2. Moghaddam A, Heller R et al. (2020) Selenium Deficiency Is Associated with Mortality Risk from COVID-19. Nutrients 2020, 12, 2098.
  3. Martineau A, Forouhi N (2020) Vitamin-D for Covid-19: a case to answer. Lancet 2020;8:735-6.
  4. Joliffe D, Martineau A, Damsgaard Camilla et al. (2020) Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory infections: Systematic review and meta-analysis of aggregate data from randomised controlled trials. medRxiv BMJ (endnu ikke peer reviewed) 17.juli 2020.
  5. Martineau A et al. (2017) Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: Systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data.
    BMJ 2017;356:i6585.
  6. lmahamad A, (2020) 3.500 covid-19 patients provided with free medication. Azernews 18.august 2020.

A second wave of Corona epidemic is coming

That is why we need to be prepared

May 20, 2020

The Corona virus will return. Of course it will.

When and how bad it will be, we do not know, but it will come.

Curiously enough, most people expect the second wave this fall – what we are not being told is that this is because the population’s vitamin D level again will be low at that time that we also call the “flu season”.

One of Europe’s experts capabilities on Covid-19, Professor Christian Drosten of the Charité Institute at the University of Berlin, even thinks that the second wave could be tougher than the current one.

But should we then sit with our hands in our laps and wait for a vaccine?’
No, no and again no.

We must, of course, do everything we can to boost every Dane’s immune system so that we are “armed to the teeth” and can prevent a severe epidemic.

Well, isn’t it precisely an overreaction of the immune system (a cytokine storm) that kills lung patients? Yes. If they are vitamin-depleted, then it will happen.

However, several of the vitamins and minerals I have mentioned will specifically inhibit this cytokine storm from the activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome, which releases the inflammatory cytokines. Here, vitamin D and magnesium, selenium and the antioxidant vitamins are particularly important as they inhibit this cytokine storm and the subsequent inflammatory microcoagulation seen in the pulmonary vessels. It was described a week ago thoroughly in the Lancet by Prof. Dennis McGonagle and colleagues. They describe how there is actually inflammatory coagulation in the pulmonary vessels, rather than a pneumonia. Of course, this causes oxygen deficiency and such coagulation cannot be treated with a respirator. McGonagle and colleagues call it a diffuse alveolar and pulmonary interstitial inflammation in COVID-19 resulting in a macrophage activation that triggers extensive immunothrombosis.

Thus, according to this article, it is an inflammation-triggered immune response that leads to microcoagulation in the lungs, and that is what Covid-19 patients die from. This is interesting because this reaction can be dampened by vitamin D, selenium, magnesium and vitamin C.

Some of these substances have direct antiviral properties. We see this confirmed in the few scientific studies that are already published, as mentioned in the previous newsletters. The higher the level of intake (within a safe limit), the lower the mortality rate. Therefore, it is important to have high enough vitamin / mineral content for the immune system to be so effective that it will not cause severe lung disease. The more effectively we can prevent disease, the less we need treatment. The previous three newsletters have dealt with Vitamin D, Selenium and Zinc. Now we come to one of the cornerstones of human survival, namely Vitamin C. It is also called “ascorbic acid” after “a-scorbut”, ie against scurvy.

In the past, just as with other vitamins, these were believed to only protect against a deficiency of that vitamin. Thus, it was believed that vitamin C merely protected against scurvy, ie vitamin C deficiency.

However, the past 60-70 years of research have shown that vitamins (and certain minerals) have completely different and quite potent therapeutic properties when dosed accordingly.

Vitamin C is essential for our immune system, which has been documented in over 1,000 scientific articles. Finding evidence is not difficult. Rather, one must know how to limit oneself when searching.

Some of these articles are listed in the literature list. I have included a few old ones for historical reasons. After all, it is interesting that Frederick Klenner with high-dose vitamin C cured children from active polio, while here in Denmark we put them in iron lungs (the respirator of that time), while letting the virus rage in the body. Klenner killed the virus.

Another classic is Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling’s classic “The common cold …”, which created a great debate for and against.
Since that time, the scientific evidence has been well established and unanimously shows that vitamin C is essential for a well-functioning immune system.

Vitamin C has many extraordinary properties in that it can not only prevent disease but also be used in disease treatment.

If we are to concentrate on the current Covid-19 pandemic, then several serious studies around the world are using ascorbic acid intravenously to treat severe Covid-19 disease.

Contrary to the often heard mantra, “we have no treatment to offer Covid-19 patients”.

Well, we have.

It is true, however, that there are no gold standard randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies published in reputable, peer-reviewed, medical journals. But come-on.

This is a completely harmless treatment with an extremely cheap, natural vitamin for a potentially fatal disease.

If the seriously ill Covid-19 patients have to wait for the above publication, then they will be dead. Why not try it when it can never hurt them? If doctors are nervous about the legal aspect, use Article 37 of the Helsinki Declaration on compassionate care. Here, the doctor’s judgment applies.

The theoretical basis for the antiviral effect of vitamin C is present, along with a second-to-none safety track record. There is even more than 70 years of clinical experience from doctors who have used ascorbic acid for a variety of diseases, including severe viral infections. In addition, a large number of scientific studies, which more than indicate that Vitamin C has a place in the treatment of viral infections.

The least that could be done was to do a pilot study with 10 patients hospitalized with severe Covid-19 disease and compare with 10 who did not receive vitamin C. All 20 patients would receive the standard treatment available today.
Then you can compare mortality, hospitalization time, and recovery time.
The study can be completed in a month within a general medical department’s budget. It can hardly be more simple.

But that is perhaps the problem.

The first four newsletters have dealt with optimization of the immune system using vitamin D, Selenium, Magnesium, Zinc and Vitamin C.

The next newsletter will summarize our knowledge of the Covid-19 pandemic and conclude with a comprehensive overview of what you can take if you want to be highly equipped with an optimally functioning immune system as the next virus threat approaches.

Take care of yourself and others,

Claus Hancke, MD,
Specialist in general medicine


  • Alberto Boretti, Bimal Krishna Banik (2020) Intravenous vitamin C for reduction of cytokines storm in acute respiratory distress syndrome PharmaNutrition. 2020 Jun;12:100190.  Published online 2020 Apr 21.
  • Cannell JJ, Zasloff M, Garland CF et al. (2008) On the epidemiology of influenza. Virol J. 2008;5:29.
  • Carr AC, Maggini S. Vitamin C and immune function. Nutrients 2017;9(11):1211.
  • Chambial S et al (2013) Vitamin C in Disease Prevention and Cure: An Overview. Indian J Clin Biochem. 2013 Oct; 28(4): 314–328.
  • Gerber, WF (1975) Effect of ascorbic acid, sodium salicylate and caffeine on the serum interferon level in response to viral infection. Pharmacology, 13: 228
  • Gonzalez MJ, Berdiel MJ, Duconge J (2018) High dose vitamin C and influenza: A case report.  J Orthomol Med. June, 2018, 33(3).
  • Gorton HC, Jarvis K (1999) The effectiveness of vitamin C in preventing and relieving the symptoms of virus-induced respiratory infections. J Manip Physiol Ther, 22:8, 530-533
  • Hemilä H (2003) Vitamin C and SARS coronavirus Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, Volume 52, Issue 6, December 2003, Pages 1049–1050
  • Hunt C et al. The clinical effects of Vitamin C supplementation in elderly hospitalised patients with acute respiratory infections. Int J Vitam Nutr Res 1994;64:212-19.
  • Kennes B, Dumont I, Brohee D, Hubert C, Neve P (1983) Effect of vitamin C supplements on cell-mediated immunity in old people. Gerontology. 29:305-310.
  • Klenner F 1949, Southern Medicine & Surgery, Volume 111, Number 7, July, 1949, pp. 209-214
  • Li W1, Maeda N, Beck MA. (2006) Vitamin C deficiency increases the lung pathology of influenza virus-infected gulo-/- mice, J Nutr. 2006 Oct;136(10):2611-6.
  • McGonagle D et al, 2020, Immune mechanisms of pulmonary intravascular coagulopathy in COVID-19 pneumonia. Lancet May 7, 2020:1-9
  • Pauling L (1971) Vitamin C and the common cold Can Med Assoc J. 1971 Sep 4; 105(5): 448, 450.
  • Wintergerst ES, Maggini S, Hornig DH (2006) Immune-enhancing role of vitamin C and zinc and effect on clinical conditions. Ann Nutr Metab. 50:85-94.
  • Yejin Kim, Hyemin Kim, Seyeon Bae et al. (2013) Vitamin C is an essential factor on the anti-viral immune responses through the production of interferon-α/β at the initial stage of influenza A virus (H3N2) infection. Immune Netw. 13:70-74.

Zinc is important for the immune system

– also for Covid-19 disease

May 18 2020

In continuation of the previous two newsletters on Vitamin D and Selenium, a little important information about Zinc and its importance to the immune system is now presented here.

In these corona times, it is especially necessary that we each optimize our immune system so that we are well prepared for a possible new wave in about half a year from now, when people’s deposits of vitamin D again are declining.

In the Western part of the world, about 25% of the population has some level of zinc deficiency, especially the elderly, people with high alcohol consumption, people with chronic infections, those who get certain types of medicine, and elite athletes, who use up their magnesium and zinc.

Zinc is part of more than 200 different enzyme systems and is a prerequisite for normal growth and cell formation and a well-functioning immune system.

There is solid evidence that zinc deficiency leads to increased susceptibility to infection. Since zinc supplementation has also been found to reduce the duration of a cold, various zinc lozenges have been tried, and a Cochrane study of 18 studies found that 75 mg of zinc a day could reduce the duration of cold symptoms in healthy people, provided the zinc tablets were given within the first 24 hours after symptom onset.

The effect lies, among other things, in the skin and mucous membranes, where zinc is necessary for the cell replication that the body initiates when an infection is to be fought. This is especially true regarding the growth, maturation and differentiation of circulating lymphocytes, T cells and the killer cells, NK cells that we need to fight viruses.

In 2010, an in vitro study showed that zinc inhibits another coronavirus, namely SARS-CoV, which caused an epidemic in 2002. Zinc has a direct antiviral effect by inhibiting SARS-CoV RNA polymerase, which is a prerequisite for virus replication.

There is no specific study yet on the effect of zinc on the current CoV-Sars-2, but natural connections are looked for and, for example, the current Covid-19 disease is characterized by many people’s losing the sense of taste and smell, which is also seen in the case of zinc deficiency.
But it could be coincidence.

We have to take zinc all the time, as it is not stored specifically. It is not difficult to get enough zinc here in Denmark, just by eating real food and not industrial synthetic ‘plastic’ food. Zinc is found in meat, seafood, organ meat, fish, eggs, legumes, cereals, dairy products, green vegetables, fruits and berries. An intake of 20-30 mg per day is enough.

If you take zinc as a supplement, remember that it can reduce the copper content of the body, as zinc will upregulate the metallothionein synthesis, which can cause copper loss. This is probably not of great importance here in Denmark, where a large pig production has given us all a solid copper supplement.

In any case, we need zinc to optimize our immune system, so we are ready to fight an virus infection.

Now you have read about vitamin D, selenium and zinc in relation to the immune system.
The next newsletter to arm your immune system against Covid-19 will be about Vitamin C.

Take care of yourself and others,

Claus Hancke, MD,
Specialist in general medicine


  • Read Scott A, Obeid S et al. The role of Zinc in antiviral immunity.(2019) Adv Nutr 2019;10:696–710
  • Skalny et al: Zinc and respiratory tract infections: Perspectives for Covid-19. Int J Molecular Med. April 13, 2020
  • Mossad S, Macknin M, Mendendorp S, et al. Zinc Gluconate Lozenges for Treating the Common Cold: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Annals of Internal Medicine 15 July 1996
  • Velthuis AJW, van den Worm SHE, Sims AC, Baric RS, Snijder EJ, van Hemert MJ (2010). Zn2+ Inhibits Coronavirus and Arterivirus RNA Polymerase Activity In Vitro and Zinc Ionophores Block the Replication of These Viruses in Cell Culture. PLoS Pathog 6(11): e1001176.
  • Shankar AH, Prasad AS. Zinc and immune function: The biological basis of altered resistance to infection. Am J Clin Nutr. 1998 Aug;68 (2 Suppl): 447S-463S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/68.2.447S.
  • Singh M, Das RR. Zinc for the common cold. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 6. Art. No.: CD001364. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001364.pub4
  • Yoshimura A, Naka T, Kubo M. SOCS proteins, cytokine signalling and immune regulation. Nat Rev Immunol 2007;7(6):454–65.

Selenium attenuates Covid-19 disease

But we don’t hear about it

May 11, 2020

At this time, new research is emerging, newly published, especially about SARS-CoV-2, which has shut down the world with its follow-up Covid-19. This disease specifically affects the lungs, which is why people with lung disease are at special risk of serious illness.

One of the world’s most respected selenium researchers, Margaret Rayman, together with a team of researchers, has just published an important letter in the American Journal for Clinical Nutrition that shows a significantly (P <0.0001) higher cure rate for Covid-19 patients with higher selenium levels in the body.

An interesting study from 2004 (Beck) showed that if a virus like corona passes through a host animal with selenium deficiency, the viral virulence will increase. The host animal lacks selenium to produce glutathione peroxidase for its own protection, thus allowing the virus to mutate freely to a more virulent form. Such selenium-deficient host animals are found in large selenium-poor areas of China, and could, for example, be a bat, or more likely a civet, which is a Chinese cat-like animal resembling a mongoose a little bit. It is eminent for adapting to urban environments and can be a nuisance near human housing where the cats’ excrements make a mess and carry diseases – especially if the animals lack selenium.

Rayman mentions a number of diseases that are improved by optimizing selenium supplementation via the immunomodulatory effect of selenium, in particular selenium’s ability to attenuate the virus’s ability to mutate in a more virulent direction.

Along with the above zoological observation, this led Rayman and colleagues to assume that selenium status and Covid-19 disease had a relationship, and they wanted to find it.

In a retrospective population-based analysis, daily reports (from a credible, non-governmental source) were collected from each province, municipality and city on confirmed cases, cured and deceased Covid-19 patients.

From previous studies, data on selenium levels in individual small districts were reported as selenium concentration in hair. Hair selenium concentrations have shown strong correlation with selenium intake in the different Chinese districts.

By the term “cured” is meant more than three days of fever-free lung function and lung symptoms clearly improved pulmonary x-ray or scan normal, and negative immunological test for the lung pathogen in question in two subsequent tests at least one day apart.

The recovery was significantly lower in Hubei Province (13.2%) compared to all other provinces (40.6%), and mortality in Hubei Province higher (3% – sick) than in all other provinces (0.6 %). Both differences are highly significant (P <0.0001).

However, one of the cities of Hubei Province showed remarkably higher recovery rates than the rest of the cities of Hubei, and it was Enshi (36.4%), which is known for high selenium intake and high selenium status.
The reason China is so thoroughly researched for selenium, is because there are areas in China with both the world’s lowest – and the world’s highest occurrences of selenium in the soil and in the food.

An area of very low selenium status is Keshan in northeastern Heilongjiang Province. We know Keshan disease, which is a cardiomyopathy / heart failure due to selenium deficiency. In Keshan, the mortality rate was 2.4% compared to the other province’s 0.5%.

The Rayman study has significant weaknesses in confounding factors and the use of old selenium data. It was also published as a “facilitator” so that the news can come out as quickly as possible at a time when any whistleblow is welcome and every stone must be turned over.
The Vitality Council has emphasized that the research does come from a serious researcher, Margaret Rayman.

Furthermore, when we can link her new data with a large number of heavy scientific studies, all of which point to selenium as a key ingredient in our immune system, the Vitality Council will conclude that selenium is necessary to optimize our immune system, so we won’t get so sick from Covid-19.

Take care of yourself and others,

Claus Hancke; MD,
Specialist in general medicine


  • Rayman Margaret et al, 2020, Association between regional selenium status and reported outcome of COVID-19 cases in China Am J Clin Nutr 2020; 00: 1–3
  • Beck MA, Handy J, Levander OA. Host nutritional status: The neglected virulence factor. Trends Microbiol 2004; 12: 417–23.
  • Rayman Margaret. Selenium and human health. Lancet 2012; 379: 1256–68.
  • Harthill M. 2011, Micronutrient selenium deficiency influences evolution of some viral infectious diseases. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2011 Dec; 143 (3): 1325-36.
  • Huang Z, Rose AH, Hoffmann PR. The role of selenium in inflammation and immunity: from molecular mechanisms to therapeutic opportunities.
    Antiox Redox Signal. 2012 Apr 1; 16 (7): 705-43.
  • Beck MA, Nelson HK, Shi Q, Van Dael P, Schiffrin EJ, Blum S, Barclay D, Levander OA. Selenium deficiency increases the pathology of an influenza virus infection. FASEB J. 2001 Jun; 15 (8): 1481-3.
  • Steinbrenner H et al. 2015, Dietary Selenium in Adjuvant Therapy of Viral and Bacterial Infections. Adv Nutr 2015; 6: 73–82.

Fat is beneficial for the eyes

June 15, 2009

Two new studies suggest that the most common cause of functional blindness is preventable with healthy fatty acids.

This newsletter has previously suggested that certain vitamins and other nutrients have a preventive effect against the age-related macular degeneration (AMD), meaning a degeneration of the cones in the macula. The cells of the retina responsible for our central vision and our color vision.

Recently two new scientific studies have appeared from Australia, which very convincingly make probable that it is the healthy fatty acids that prevent this frequent visual impairment.

The first study showed that high intake of omega-3 fatty acids and low intake of linoleic acid protect against AMD.

In this study, 2,454 people were followed for up to 10 years, where the incidence of AMD related to their intake of fish, nuts or fatty acids in the form of supplements was recorded.

The study showed a risk reduction of 31% and 35% in those who regularly ate fish and nuts or consumed n-3 fatty acids (fish oil and flaxseed oil) and the authors advise you to make an effort to attain this and avoid a diet rich in linoleic acid that occurs especially in the cheap cooking oils e.g. corn oil.

The second study showed that high intake of omega-3 fatty acids and olive oil reduces the risk of AMD, and that a high intake of trans fatty acids increase the risk.

Data from 6,734 people between 58 and 69 years was examined.
It turned out that the highest intake of trans fatty acids increased the risk of AMD by 76% compared to the lowest.

To the contrary a high intake of fish oil also here showed a reduced risk (15%).
But most compelling was that a high intake of olive oil reduced the risk of AMD with whole 52%.

The healthy essential fatty acids is beneficial for virtually every cell in the body and bad fats can cause just as much harm.

So again in these fat frightening times let´s strike a blow for the good fat we should eat much more of

By: Claus Hancke, MD

• “Dietary fatty acids and the 10-year incidence of age-related macular degeneration: the Blue Mountains Eye Study,” Tan JS, Wang JJ, et al, Arch Ophthalmol, 2009; 127(5): 656-65.
• “Fat consumption and its association with age-related macular degeneration,” Chong EW, Robman LD, et al, Arch Ophthalmol, 2009; 127(5): 674-80

Selenium still helps preventing cancer

January 26, 2009

A huge U.S. study showed that supplementation of selenium do not prevent cancer of the prostate. But this result is only valid if you get plenty of selenium in advance.

12 years ago it aroused hope and optimism when American Larry Clark could tell that the mineral selenium prevents cancer, particularly prostate cancer, the second most common cause of death from cancer in men. He had to stop his trial before expiry when he learned that far fewer selenium-treated than placebo-treated patients (placebo: Inert tablets) got cancer.

Now a second, much larger, selenium trial has been stopped prematurely. Also in this case the focus of interest was the effect against prostate cancer. This was also an American study. But SELECT, as the trial was named, unfortunately showed that selenium had no effect. One could even not exclude an, admittedly very little, harmful effect. So, it was stopped.

In the meantime, Clark’s trial has been studied more closely. Was it really as convincing as was first believed? With 1.312 participants it was not nearly as large as SELECT where 35.000 attended. Very important was that the final report which came in 2003 showed that the benefit was smaller than first believed. Some cases of prostate cancer among selenium treated had for various reasons been overlooked.

What was left was a statistically significant benefit among those who at the beginning of the experiment had the least selenium in the blood and with most certainty did not have incipient cancer of the prostate. The latter could be concluded from the very low values of PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) in the blood of these people. In this group, while the trial was in progress, the incidence of cancer of the prostate was three times less than in the placebo group.

More selenium in the U.S.
Now the question is whether the much larger SELECT trial cancels Clark’s trial. It seems to be the general opinion as for example reflected in the leading article of the same issue of the American medical journal, JAMA, where SELECT was published. So far physicians should not recommend selenium as a prevention against prostate cancer, it says.

And yet one can rightly come to the diametrically opposite conclusion: There is every reason to believe that selenium prevents cancer of the prostate, and presumably also other kinds of cancer.

The fact is that Americans, but not all Americans, get far more selenium in their diet than we Scandinavians. In Clark’s study, participants were selected on the basis of consistently having relatively little selenium in their diet for U.S. standards. Two-thirds had less than 122 micrograms of selenium per. liter of serum. In the SELECT study only one in five had that low values. In other words, it is conceivable that most of the SELECT participants already got plenty of selenium so that additional supplementation would not benefit them. In Denmark almost everybody get less selenium than the participants of both the first and the second study mentioned. Our values are typically 80 micrograms per liter.

This is in excellent compliance with the fact that incredible few participants died from prostate cancer during the SELECT study. Statistically one would have expected 75 to 100 deaths for this reason, during the 5.6 years duration of the study. But only one died (!).

A contributory cause may have been that the vast majority of participants in the SELECT study on their own underwent PSA measurement annually. Possible prostate cancer was therefore detected and treated early. On the other hand, other studies have shown that annual PSA measurement does not reduce mortality. Therefore it is not recommended in Denmark.

Despite the termination of the SELECT study, as a Dane you should still remember that the research that involves us – as opposed to Americans we get very little selenium in our diet – suggests that supplementation with selenium in the order of 1-2 tablets (100-200 micrograms) per day seems to reduce the risk of prostate cancer to a third.

By: Niels Hertz, M.D.

1. Lippman SM et al. Effect of selenium and vitamin E on risk of prostate cancer and other cancers. JAMA online December 9, 2008: E1-E13
2. Gann PH. Randomized trials of antioxidant supplementation for cancer prevention. JAMA online December 9, 2008: E1-E2.
3. Selenium supplementation, baseline plasma selenium status and incidence of prostate cancer: An analysis of the complete treatment of the Nutritional Prevention of Cancer Trial. BJU Int. 2003;91:608-12.

Vitamin C slows cancer growth

August 13. 2008

More than 30 years of experience have shown the anti-cancer effect of vitamin C in both test tubes, animal tests and human trials.

Nevertheless, the Danish Cancer Society does not consider it acceptable to apply yet.

Well-known effect on humans
As early as 1936, a young registrar at the Blegdam Hospital in Copenhagen published in the danish scientific journal “Ugeskrift for Læger” an experiment on two leukemia patients in which the disease improved on treatment with vitamin C (1). The young registrar was later to become the renowned professor of pediatrics, Preben Plum.


1. Plum P. Thomsen S. (1936) Remission under forløbet af akut aleukæmisk leukæmi iaggtaget i to tilfælde under behandling med ascorbinsyre. Ugeskr Læger (98):1062-67.
2. Benade L. Howard T. Burk D. (1969) Synergistic killing of Ehrlich ascites carcinoma cells by ascorbate and 3-amino-1, 2, 4, -triazole, Oncology, 23, 33–43.
3. Cameron E. Pauling L. (1976) Supplemental ascorbate in the supportive treatment of cancer: Prolongation of survival times in terminal human cancer. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 73, 3685–3689 .
4. Cameron E. Pauling L. (1978) Supplemental ascorbate in the supportive treatment of cancer: Reevaluation of prolongation of survival times in terminal human cancer, Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 75, 4538–4542 .
5. Murata A. Morishige F. Yamaguchi H. (1982) Prolongation of survival times of terminal cancer patients by administration of large doses of ascorbate, International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research, Supplement, 23, 101-113.
6. Chen et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 20.Sep.2005;102:13604-9
7. NIH News (2008) Vitamin C Injections Slow Tumor Growth in Mice, Embargoed for Release, Monday, August 4,