In this health video you will learn cancer prevention methods through your nutrition.
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Dr. Mark Whitarce: Paul, what is the history of Selenium as a nutritional agent, and why is it so important? Paul A. Willis: Really, the history of Selenium….as a nutritional agent really ties very closely to the history of our company and the work we’ve been working on for the last several years. Prior to 1980 the only form of Selenium supplementation that we had in the nutritional or dietary supplement industry was sodium selenite, the inorganic form of Selenium. And, in the late 1970s the research community wanted to develop a way to replicate a food form of Selenium—organically bound Selenium that’s found in foods. And, there was a lot of work being done with hydroponics— growing plants in Selenium rich water and growing plants in Selenium rich soils and trying to process the plant to obtain this organically bound Selenium. So, in the early 1980s a group of yeast researchers began developing the production protocol related to growing yeast in [a] Selenium rich environment. It was found that the baker’s yeast would organically bind the Selenium exactly, and fully replicate the process that a plant goes through. And so, the product was developed in 1980 and very fortunately about the same time the National Cancer Institute began a trial called the “Nutritional Prevention of Cancer” trial, and it was looking at the effects of Selenium supplementation on skin cancer. Supplementing with 200 micrograms of Selenium in the form of the high Selenium yeast was going to be used to look at reducing the occurrence— or preventing the occurrence of skin cancer through Selenium supplementation. Dr. Mark Whitarce: What were the results of that nutritional prevention of cancer trial? Were those results published? Paul A. Willis: Yes, they were. The trial began in 1983 shortly after the development of the high Selenium yeast organically bound form. It was begun in 1983. It was a double blinded, placebo controlled, gold standard trial. So, it began in ’83 and it was actually unblinded in 1994. It was unblinded a few years early because, although it showed zero effect on prevention of skin cancer, the trial was unblinded and published because it showed anywhere from a 50 to 60 percent reduction in colon, lung and prostate cancer. It was unblinded in ’94, went through peer-review and then was published in the Journal of American Medical Association, a very prestigious journal. The results—it showed a….50 to 63 percent reduction in colon, lung and prostate cancer. In the Oncology community it was considered to be a landmark trial. That’s a term in the Oncology world that basically says this is a complete paradigm shift from what we believed before. It was really the first time that a nutritional agent, and something as simple as a Selenium supplement, had been shown to prevent colon, lung and prostate cancer to the degree of 50 to 63 percent. So, it was a landmark trial and a complete shift in the thinking of the Oncology world that a nutritional agent could prevent cancer. Dr. Mark Whitarce: I would imagine that a study like that made a lot of news didn’t it? Back when those results were published? Paul A. Willis: Yes, I remember that well. It was that publication in JAMA [that] came out on Christmas Eve of 1996. I happened to be traveling with my family on Christmas and what had been a relatively small business prior to that, became…it quadrupled overnight. It became a big effort for us, at that point, because on every major news network, on CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN….it was announced that night on Christmas Eve that Selenium had been shown to prevent cancer. It was a tremendous boost in the recognition of Selenium as a nutritional agent. Dr. Mark Whitarce: That was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, in the JAMA—what levels of Selenium did they use in terms of what they found the most effective?... Paul A. Willis: In the trial they used both placebo and a 200 microgram level.