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May 13, 2009

Selenium and Vitamin E Supplementation for Cancer Prevention

JAMA. 2009;301(18):1876-1877. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.626

To the Editor: Dr Lippman and colleagues1 concluded that “selenium, vitamin E, or selenium + vitamin E (at the tested doses and formulations) did not prevent prostate cancer.” We believe that this statement is potentially misleading because the data relate to the effects of L-selenomethionine supplementation only in a selenium-replete population. The effects of selenium are species specific, with some forms of selenium having greater anticancer benefit than others,2 so the null effect of L-selenomethionine supplementation on prostate cancer risk should not be applied to selenium in general.