Selenium Fighting Cancer

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Chances are, you’ve heard of the mineral selenium because it’s one of those minerals that has shown a lot of cancer-fighting promise over the years. The latest selenium-cancer news being reported relates to colorectal cancer:

crimini mushrooms

Presented yesterday at a major cancer prevention conference, the study suggests that a supplement containing selenium reduced the risk of having polpys recur by about 40 percent. (Polyps or adenomas are benign growths on the colon that, over time, can turn cancerous.)

The 411 participants had already had at least one colorectal adenoma removed. They took either a placebo or an antioxidant compound, which contained selenium, along with zinc, and vitamins A , C, and E. Five years and three colonoscopies later, the selenium-supplement group had significantly fewer polyps occur.

It’s still a preliminary study – far too preliminary for anyone to start taking selenium (or other) supplements to fight cancer. In fact, experts warn that too much selenium can be harmful. But if you want to add more selenium to your diet there’s plenty of healthy foods you can eat. In general, crimini or portabella mushrooms, eggs, and fish are good sources of this mineral. Need recipes? Last week, Cathy wrote about a recipe for hearty mushroom soup, which you can look at here.

In other selenium news, Cancer Research Update features a scientist at Roswell Park whose lab studies suggest that a selenium compound may improve cancer treatment.

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    Sea Cucumbers: Possible Cancer Fighters?

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    This beautiful picture of a translucent sea cucumber — released last week by the Census of Marine Life and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution – reminded me of some interesting research presented at AICR’s conference.

    SeaCucThe lab research, presented in a poster session, found that a compound in sea cucumber decreased the growth of breast cancer tumors in mice and decreased cancer growth in cells. Previous lab studies have found that this same sea cucumber compound  — called Frondoside A – inhibited the growth of human pancreatic cancer cells.

    The research is still only in the laboratory phase but if you want to try a new seafood, look for dried sea cucumbers in Asian markets.  (Sea cucumber are a common delicacy in many Asian dishes.)

    Sea cucumbers are pretty fascinating. They are generally cucumber-shaped and there’s over 1,000 different species of them. To escape predators, sea cucumbers can jettison some of their internal organs, and then grow them back again.

    You can see more newly-identified deep-sea organisms here.

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      Those Cancer-Fighting Apples

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      Chances are, you have some leftover apples from Thursday’s feast – whether they’re whole or in pie form. We all know apples are healthy, but recent cancer research will make you feel even better about biting into America’s second favorite fruit.

      Apple with cinnamon
      A study published this week in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention found that eating at least one apple a day significantly lowered the risk of colorectal cancer. The study participants ate relatively low amounts of fruits and vegetable, with apples the most frequent fruit consumed. Eating more than one apple a day reduced the risk by about 50 percent.

      This week’s Cancer Research Update looks at the lab work of a Cornell University food scientist who has spent almost a decade exploring how apples may prevent cancer development.

      Did you know there are so many apple varieties, you could eat a different type every day for 19 years without repeating, if you traveled the world that is. You can see how the most popular varieties compare to one another in Apples: A Healthy Temptation.

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