April 1, 2005
Every forth man lives with a highly increased risk of getting cancer of the prostate, the next most frequent cause to cancer deaths in men. It does not have to be like that. Exactly these exposed men could easily decrease their risk to a tenth.
Researchers from Harvard University in Boston have published a landmark study. It strongly suggests that most cases of cancer in the prostate are due to lack of balance in the body’s defense against free oxygen radicals. And most importantly: This balance can be restored with antioxidants – especially with selenium, but also vitamin E and the red dye of the tomatoes, lycopene. Prostate cancer can thus become a rare disease.
The imbalance occurs especially in men who get too little selenium and who, for hereditary reasons, have a particularly effective antioxidant enzyme (manganese-containing SOD) in their mitochondria. The mitochondria are the cells’ internal energy factories, which are worn down by free oxygen radicals with age. This wear and tear, parenthetically noted, is believed to be a very significant cause of aging and age-related diseases.
One would therefore think that it was an advantage to have a particularly effective antioxidant enzyme in one’s mitochondria. But very often it is not. The SOD enzyme transforms free oxygen radicals into the less risky hydrogen peroxide, but this creates a new problem: the hydrogen peroxide must also be removed, since it also causes harmful oxygenation. The removal requires an enzyme (glutathione peroxidase), the quantity of which depends on the supply of selenium.
The more free oxygen radicals (e.g. from smoking) that need to be neutralized and the more efficient the SOD enzyme is, the more harmful hydrogen peroxide accumulates and the greater the need for selenium.
Balance in things
The Harvard study is part of a study of approx. 15,000 American doctors who have been followed since 1982. Around 1990, 275 of them had developed serious prostate cancer, and it was those who were primarily found interesting.
By: Vitality Council
1. Haojie Li et al. : Manganese superoxide dismutase polymorphism, prediagnostic antioxidant status, and risk of clinical significant prostate cancer. Cancer Res. 2005;65:2498-2504.
2. Woodson et al. Manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD) polymorphism, α-tocopherol supplementation and prostate cancer risk in the α-Tocopherol, β-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study. Cancer Causes Control 2003;14:513-8
3. Niels Hertz. Selen – et livsvigtigt spormineral. Forlaget Ny Videnskab 2002.