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Health News Archive 712 - Cancer
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Selenium Prevents Side Effects of Chemotherapy

Thirty patients with newly diagnosed non-Hodgkin's lymphoma were randomly assigned to receive chemotherapy alone (cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, oncovin, and prednisone) or chemotherapy plus high ­dose sodium selenite (200 mcg of selenium per kg of body weight per day for five days, given on days 3-7 of chemotherapy). Compared with no selenium treatment, selenium treatment significantly reduced the mean percentage of peripheral blood neutrophils that had undergone apoptosis on day 8 after chemotherapy (32% vs. 82%; p< 0.05) and significantly reduced the infection rate following chemotherapy (20% vs. 67%; p < 0.05).

Comment by Alan Gaby, M.D.:

Chemotherapy-induced apoptosis (programmed cell death) of normal cells appears to be a mechanism for some of the adverse effects of chemotherapy. For example, apoptosis of white blood cells could increase the risk of infection, one of the common side effects of chemotherapy. The results of the present study demonstrate that high-dose selenium decreased the percentage of neutrophils undergoing apoptosis, thereby helping preserve immune function and decreasing the incidence of chemotherapy-related infections. The dosage of selenium used in this study was very large (14,000 mcg per day for five days for a 70-kg person) and potentially toxic, although no major adverse effects were reported.

Source: Asfour IA, et al. Effect of high-dose sodium selenite therapy on polymorphonuclear leukocyte apoptosis in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma patients. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2006;110:19-32.

Reprinted with exclusive permission from The Townsend Letter. Sept 2007

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