Chemotherapy: Selenium Increases the Effect and Reduces Side Effects

September 20, 2004

There are still a few cancer specialists, who warn their patients against taking antioxidants while undergoing chemotherapy. They think that when antioxidants decrease the side effects of the treatment, they will also decrease the benefits of chemotherapy. However, pursuasive studies now show that this advice is neither correct nor beneficial.

Scientists at the famous and internationally acclaimed American Roswell Park Cancer Institute – the oldest independent cancer research centre in the world – are putting forward these new results.

Highly detailed studies on mice have shown that not only does selenium protect healthy tissue from the destructive effect of chemotherapy – it also quite dramatically enhances the effect of chemo therapy on tumours! For the first time, it has been established that it is possible to increase the effect of chemotherapy with a treatment that is actually harmless in itself.

The studies were carried out on so-called naked mice that had various human tumours surgically implanted and then were given various types of chemo theray. Some of the tumours were moderately sensitive to chemotherapy while the sensitivity of others was very small. However, when the mice were treated with large doses of selenium, they were able to tolerate up to four times as much chemotherapy as they normally would and thereby, not only the usual 20 – 30% of the mice could be cured, but in some cases up to 100% of the mice were cured!

Just as convincing was the effect on moderately sensitive tumours which are usually cured in about 50% of the cases. With selenium, the success rate went up to 100% and, to a very large extent, the mice were also free from side effects.

The preliminary results indicate that there might be several reasons for these results, but selenium in combination with chemotherapy seems to be able to force the cancer cells into committing suicide, so-called apoptosis.

Attention must be paid to the fact that this is an animal experiment. However, the results have been so exceptional and promising that the researchers at Roswell Park Cancer Institute are already setting up the first studies for testing the treatment on humans.

By: Vitality Council

Shousong Cao, Farukh A. Durrani, and Youcef M. Rustum. Selective Modulation of the Therapeutic Efficacy of Anticancer Drugs by Selenium Containing Compounds against Human Tumor Xenografts. Clin Cancer Res. 2004;10(7):2561-9.