Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center in the US are looking for volunteers to take part in a study to determine whether prostate cancer can be effectively treated by selenium and vitamin E.
The centre said that only lung cancer kills more individuals in the US than prostate cancer, and that 31,200 people are expected to die of the disease this year alone.
Selenium is a natural mineral found in multivitamins and in many foods such as grains, corn, fish and animal organ meats, and it has already been investigated as a potential treatment for skin cancer.
"Previous research with vitamin E and selenium, in studies focusing on other types of cancer, suggested that together these nutrients might also prevent prostate cancer," said S. Bruce Malkowicz, MD, associate professor of urology and leader of the study. "What makes this study so appealing is that taking vitamin E and selenium, a natural vitamin and mineral found in many common foods, is completely non-toxic when taken in regulated dosages."
Penn, the coordinating site for 15 other Pennsylvania locations, is one of more than 400 sites in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada recruiting participants for this trial which is the largest-ever for prostate cancer prevention. The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial, or SELECT, is sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and the Southwest Oncology Group. It will include a total of 32,400 men and may take up to 12 years to complete.
Selenium and vitamin E are antioxidants, capable of neutralising toxins known as free radicals that might otherwise damage the genetic material of cells and possibly lead to cancer. "These two naturally occurring nutrients were chosen for study because of the inadvertent results of two other large cancer prevention trials, one for non-melanoma skin cancer and the other for lung, in which prostate cancer rates were significantly reduced," Malkowicz explained.