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March 14, 1936

Current Comment

JAMA. 1936;106(11):926-927. doi:10.1001/jama.1936.02770110042019

TOXIC EFFECTS OF SELENIUM  When attention was directed in January 1935 in these columns1 to "the selenium problem," it was pointed out that this chemical element had been found in rather large amounts in certain grains and food plants and in soils obtained from several districts of South Dakota and the north central Great Plains area. Further, it was noted that the feeding of the selenium-containing foodstuffs to laboratory animals produced a train of symptoms resembling those of "alkali disease" of live stock foraging in affected areas. The urgent need for further work on selenium particularly with respect to the pathologic effects of the administration of this substance was stressed. Recently an investigation of this type has been reported.2 The feeding of rats of a small amount of selenium as sodium selenite produced definite toxic symptoms similar to those observed in animals fed selenium-containing "toxic wheat." There was