Dr. Bruce Ames is one of my heroes. For many decades, he has been the head of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at UC Berkeley. It’s unlikely that any single individual has produced more published research in the field of nutrition than Dr. Ames. And, he is still at the top of his profession at the age of 83.
His latest research was published in the June issue of the Journal of American Experimental Biology. It concerns the subtle effects of selenium deficiency. Selenium is very subject to deficiency because many soils in the world are lacking in it, and plants can grow perfectly well without it. You’ve heard about goiter belts resulting from iodine-depleted soils, and a similar situation exists with selenium.
What Dr. Ames discovered is that even modest, sub-clinical selenium deficiency retards the activity of at least 12 important seleno-proteins. These seleno-proteins have protective effects which are directly related to the prevention of age-related diseases, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and immunological condtions.
"The same set of age-related diseases and conditions, including cancer, heart disease, and immune dysfunction, are prospectively associated with modest selenium deficiency and also with widespread dysfunction of nonessential selenoproteins, suggesting that selenium deficiency could be a causal factor in many of the most common diseases of aging. Modest selenium deficiency is common in many parts of the world; optimal intake of selenium could significantly prevent future disease."
So far, selenium has been associated with preventing breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, and skin cancer. More research is underway as we speak, and I look forward to great progress in disease control through selenium nutriture in the years ahead.