Tuesday, July 24, 2001
Study to examine selenium, vitamin E and prostate disease
By Tim Bonfield
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Two Cincinnati-area hospitals and a medical office in Norwood will be among 400 sites nationwide to recruit more than 32,000 men for a study to determine whether vitamin E and selenium can prevent prostate cancer.
The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial, or SELECT, is sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and the Southwest Oncology Group, a multistate network of cancer experts. Sponsors say it is the largest male-only disease prevention trial ever launched.
In Cincinnati, University Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital and the Bethesda Family Practice office in Norwood are participating.
Previous research involving vitamin E and selenium suggested that these nutrients might prevent prostate cancer, but we don't know for sure. When SELECT is finished, we will know whether these supplements can prevent prostate cancer, said Dr. Bruce Bracken, a professor of urology at the University of Cincinnati.
Prostate cancer kills about 31,500 men a year, including about 1,400 in Ohio. It ranks as the nation's second-leading cause of cancer death in men, behind lung cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
Vitamin E and selenium are anti-oxidants, which experts say can reduce the harm caused by toxins known as free radicals. Some experts believe that free radicals may contribute to cell damage that may lead to some forms of cancer.
The SELECT study is expected to run for 12 years.
In addition to its sheer size, race plays a big role in this study. The goal is to have about 20 percent of the volunteers be African-American men, said Dr. Scott Woods, director of research for Bethesda Family Practice.
Any otherwise healthy man 55 or older can participate. The study is open to African-American men 50 or older, because the disease is known to strike black men more often and at younger ages.
The study will split participants among four groups: One taking 200 mgs per day of selenium plus a placebo that looks like vitamin E; another taking 400 mg per day of vitamin E plus a placebo that looks like selenium; another taking both supplements; and one taking two placebos.