Selenium – “Birth Control for Cancer”

by | Apr 4, 2019

When I was in nutrition school one of my instructors, Nori Hudson, referred to selenium as “birth control for cancer”.  This lecture made an impression on me and forever left me striving for a healthy selenium intake.

The “anti-cancer” mineral, selenium, is a powerful antioxidant and disease fighter.  It works cooperatively with vitamin E and vitamin C to prevent free-radical damage to cell membranes.

Free radicals form in the body naturally as we age and convert nutrients and oxygen into usable energy.  An excess of free radicals can cause cell damage which can lead to disease and cancer. Aside from the natural metabolic development of free radicals, which we really cannot control, free radicals originate from exposure to environmental toxins, and poor diet and lifestyle choices, such as smoking, high sugar, excess alcohol, and oxidized fats.

Fortunately, there is an antidote to combat free radicals – antioxidants!  Selenium as the anti-cancer mineral and antioxidant which cuts the risk of cancer and the reduced severity and mortality caused by cancer.  It acts like a scavenger hunting for DNA damage inflicted upon cells by free radicals.  Selenium partners with other antioxidants (vitamin C, vitamin E and glutathione) to reduce and repair cell damage before it becomes problematic.

According to Dr. Keith Block of the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment, many cancer therapies use free radicals to kill tumors, which raises the body’s need for antioxidants.  It is antioxidants like selenium which can promote optimal health and recovery from advanced cancers. 

Selenium is also a key mineral in the health and proper functioning of the thyroid gland which is the command and control center for our metabolism.  Other health benefits of selenium include protection against cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and inflammation.  It boosts fertility and supports a healthy immune system.

Excellent sources of Selenium

  • Brazil nuts*
  • Skipjack Tuna
  • Shrimp
  • Sardines
  • Wild Salmon
  • Cod
  • Crimini and Shiitake mushrooms

*3-4 unshelled Brazil nuts have all the selenium needed for 1 day.

Very good sources of Selenium

  • Turkey
  • Chicken
  • Lamb
  • Scallops
  • grass fed beef
  • organic pasture raised eggs
  • brown rice
  • sunflower seeds
  • sesame seeds
  • flaxseeds
  • cabbage
  • spinach


Interested in Supplementing?

Look for selenium in your multi-vitamin. All vitamins work synergistically with one another; therefore, it is best to take selenium along with other vitamins.  The optimal daily intake for selenium is 200 micrograms (mcg), while the tolerable upper limit is 400 mcg.

Sources:  Life Over Cancer by Keith I Block, M.D.

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