Long-term consumption of selenium supplements may help reverse the progression of the ‘pre-cancer’ condition cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade 1 (CIN1), say researchers in Iran.
Published in the British Journal of Nutrition, the study saw 58 women diagnosed with this low-grade CIN given either a placebo tablet or 200 micrograms of selenium supplements as selenium yeast daily for six months.
After six months of supplementation they saw a regression in the condition and other beneficial metabolic effects.
This included significant decreases in fasting plasma glucose levels, serum insulin levels and serum TAG levels and increased HDL-cholesterol levels.
The researchers from the Arak University of Medical Sciences, Iran University of Medical Sciences and Kashan University of Medical Sciences in Iran said the findings were a first for this area.
Selenium is an essential trace element key in various major metabolic pathways.
What is CIN?
Cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia (CIN) is a term used to describe changes in the squamous cells of the cervix.
CIN is not a cancer but if left untreated may develop into cancer and is therefore often described as a ‘pre-cancerous condition’ by doctors.
However treatment when necessary is often very effective. The researchers put the likelihood of regression of grade one CIN with treatment at about 60%.
However if left untreated, the risk of progression to invasive cervical carcinoma was about 30–50%.
The main risk factors for contracting the condition are sexually transmitted diseases and the productive human papillomavirus (HPV) infection – a groups of about 100 highly contagious viruses of the skin and moist membranes lining the body for example the cervix, anus, mouth and throat.
The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) also named smoking as a risk factor.
The researchers also said increased inflammatory cytokines and biomarkers of oxidative stress meant higher cervicovaginal HPV concentrations and in turn mean a greater susceptibility to cervical cancer.
The results from this latest research found significant rises in total plasma antioxidant capacity in the supplemented group compared with the placebo. There was also a significant decrease in malondialdehyde, a marker of oxidative stress.
CIN and HPV have no symptoms, so it is essential sexually active women have regular cervical screening tests to detect any early cell changes.
Source: British Journal of Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi:10.1017/S0007114515003852
“The favourable effects of long-term selenium supplementation on regression of cervical tissues and metabolic profiles of patients with cervical intraepithelial neoplasia: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial”
Authors: M. Karamali, S. Nourgostar, A. Zamani, Z. Vahedpoor and Z. Asemi