Selenium and Breast Disease

Health |

A recent article in the excellent Journal of Complementary Medicine described the benefits of selenium in the form of selenomethionine in women with benign breast disease.

Benign breast disease is also known in medical terms as:
Chronic mastitis
Cystic fibrosis
Hormonal mastopathy
Benign mammary dysplasia
Mammary intraduct epithelial hyperplasia

The underlying inflammatory process in the breasts that produces it can produce breast cysts, destruction of healthy breast tissue and breast cancer. It is considered a precursor of breast cancer and thus should be carefully monitored as the transition to cancer can take 15 to 20 years. Thus if it is diagnosed in a woman in her thirties, it may not lead to breast cancer until she is in her sixties. In women aged 45 or less, who have breast cysts, the risk of breast cancer is increased by a factor of 6, compared to women without breast cysts.

The symptoms of benign breast disease include:
Breast pain and sensitivity
Swelling of the breasts
Breast cysts
Induration or a solid hard texture to the breasts especially towards the armpits

A clinical trial of 135 women with severe benign breast disease used 100mcg daily of selenomethionine and produced very good results in controlling the breast inflammation.

It is thought that selenium is able to exert significant protection against free radical and oxidative stress in the breast tissue. It is important to note that the measurement of selenium levels in the serum of a blood test is not an accurate guide to the dose of selenium required to act as a preventative agent, which is in excess of current nutritional guidelines. This is particularly significant in the context of the low selenium content of Australian and New Zealand soils.

Mr. James Fitzherbert who is a consultant surgeon, suggests that selenium supplementation may be much more effective if it is started at the relatively young age of 18 to 25 years, because at this time the breast tissue has maximum susceptibility to free radical damage.

He suggests that young women with benign breast disease may need more attention than older women to reduce their risk of breast cancer. He also suggests that women taking combined Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) may need to take selenomethionine as a preventative agent to the degree where it becomes essential.

Selenium is a vitally important mineral for the human cell and can be beneficial for the following –
Recurrent viral infections

Thyroid disease including goitre & autoimmune varieties such as Hashimotos thyroiditis
Inflammatory diseases
Perhaps its greatest role for the future will be to reduce the risk of cancer.