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Selenium may protect older men against diabetes.

Akbaraly TN, Arnaud J et al. 2010. Plasma selenium and risk of dysglycemia in an elderly French population: results from the prospective Epidemiology of Vascular Ageing (EVA) study. Nut & Metabol 7;21.

The authors of this study became interested in the conflicting information around selenium and sugar metabolism. A preventive role has been reported on the risk of diabetes and this has been ascribed to the insulin like activity of selenium and the antioxidant properties of the selenoenzymes. By contrast data from cross sectional studies and clinical trials has suggested an adverse effect of high selenium status and selenium supplementation on type 2 diabetes risk.

Given these controversial results the authors investigated the relationship between baseline plasma selenium concentration and occurrence of dysglycemia (impaired fasting glucose or type 2 diabetes) in an elderly French cohort. They used the EVA study data, which is a 9 year longitudinal study (1389 male and female subjects, aged 59-71 years), which measured fasting plasma glucose was at baseline, 2, 4 and 9 years. They analysed data from 1162 participants and found that the average selenium blood level at the start of the study was 1.08 micromoles per litre in men and 1.1 micromoles per litre for women.

During the 9 year follow up, 127 cases of abnormal blood sugar metabolism (dysglycemia) occurred (70 in men and 57 in women). Men with the highest selenium levels (1.19-1.97 micromoles per litre) were 50% less likely to develop dysglycemia than men with the lowest average levels. However levels of the minerals did not affect the risk of dysglycemia in women.

The lead author noted that the reason for this protective effect of selenium in men but not in women was not completely clear but might be attributed to women being healthier at baseline, having better antioxidant status in general and possible differences in how men and women process selenium.

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Article Details
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Author:Hunter, Kim
Publication:Australian Journal of Medical Herbalism
Article Type:Clinical report
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Jun 22, 2010
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