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Blood Selenium Level Influence Cancer Risk

As a nutritional trace element, selenium forms an essential part of our diet. In collaboration with the International Agency for Research on Cancer, researchers from Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin have been able to show that high blood selenium levels are associated with a decreased risk of developing liver cancer. In addition to other risk factors, the study also examines in how far selenium levels may influence the development of other types of cancer. Results from this study have been published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.*

Selenium (Se) is found in foods like fish, shellfish, meat, milk and eggs; certain South American nuts, such as Brazil nuts, are also good sources of selenium. It is a trace element that occurs naturally in soil and plants, and enters the bodies of humans and animals via the food they ingest. European soil has a rather low selenium concentration, in comparison with other areas of the world, especially in comparison to North America. Deficiencies of varying degrees of severity are common among the general population, and are the reason why German livestock receive selenium supplements in their feed.

While in Europe, neither a selenium-rich diet nor adequate selenium supplementation is associated with adverse effects, selenium deficiency is identified as a risk factor for a range of diseases. “We have been able to show that selenium deficiency is a major risk factor for liver cancer,” says Prof. Dr. Lutz Schomburg of the Institute of Experimental Endocrinology, adding: “According to our data, the third of the population with lowest selenium status have a five- to ten-fold increased risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma – also known as liver cancer.”

In this case-control study, the team of European researchers investigated a cohort of 477,000 participants, and selected individuals who had developed hepatocellular carcinoma during a 10-year follow up. Blood samples were also chosen from healthy participants and subsequently analyzed to determine their selenium status. “Our study does not show that selenium supplementation has a direct protective effect against liver cancer. However, it does confirm the importance of a balanced diet, of which selenium forms an integral part,” explains Prof. Schomburg. Previous studies had suggested a similar relationship between a person’s selenium status and their risk of developing colon cancer, as well as their risk of developing autoimmune thyroid disease.

Source: Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin

Spiced Muffin with Golden Applesauce


1-1/2 cups whole wheat (wholemeal) flour
1/2 cup rye flour
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
1 cup Golden Applesauce (recipe follows)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup raisins


  1. Preheat an oven to 375°F (190°C). Coat 12 standard muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Into a medium bowl, sift together the whole wheat flour, rye flour, cardamom, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the dry milk and stir to blend.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the applesauce, water, brown sugar, egg, and oil. Add the combined dry ingredients and stir just until the batter is blended. Stir in the raisins. Fill each prepared cup three-quarters full.
  4. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Cool in the cups for 5 minutes before serving.

Makes 12 muffins.

Golden Applesauce


2 lb Golden Delicious apples, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/4 cup thawed unsweetened apple juice concentrate
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. In a large saucepan over high heat, bring the apples, juice concentrate, and water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are mushy, about 15 minutes.
  2. Add the lemon juice and cinnamon. Using a potato masher, mash until smooth, or leave lumps if you like a chunky sauce. Serve hot or cold.
  3. If not using immediately, cool and refrigerate in a tightly covered container for up to 4 days.

Makes 3 cups.

Source: Mayo Clinic

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