Most readers know that broccoli is a good cancer preventative. Not everyone knows that garlic is another good food to help stave off cancer cell reproduction. The compound or trace mineral selenium was isolated as the main cancer fighter, according to the latest research from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
But how selenium fights cancer is rather unusual, and how the researchers discovered this is unique. The immune system is dedicated to removing wastes, damaged cells and pathogenic microbes that shouldn't be in our bodies. But some cancer cells have a unique way of avoiding that, and selenium cracks their protective code by preventing immune system overreactions.
From Professor Soren Skov, Department of Veterinary Disease Biology, University of Copenhagen:
You can say that the stimulating molecules over-activate the immune system and cause it to collapse, and we are, of course, interested in blocking this mechanism. We have now shown that certain selenium compounds, which are naturally found in, e.g., garlic and broccoli, effectively block the special immunostimulatory molecule that plays a serious role for aggressive cancers such as melanoma, prostate cancer and certain types of leukaemia.
This begs the question: If the immune system collapses due to overstimulation from cancer cells, why are poisons used for treatments? According to the good professor Skov, that's what they're working on improving.
Isolating the molecule from cancer cells that overstimulates the immune system may enable Big Pharma to develop new chemicals with less side effects to keep them in the cancer business before too many catch on with some of the several hundred natural effective remedies and treatments without any side effects.
One may wonder why blood tests are sometimes used to determine cancer status That trouble-making molecule is a liquid form of what's been labeled the NGK2D ligand. A ligand has the property of binding to a receptor molecule. In its unusual liquid form, the NGK2D molecule spreads throughout the blood and avails itself as a marker for cancerous activity.
"Molecules are found both on the surface of the cancer cells and dissolved in the blood of the affected person. We are now able to show that selenium compounds appear to have a very beneficial effect when it comes to neutralising the special variant of the NGK2D ligand -- both in soluble form and when the molecule is placed on the cell surface," added Professor Soren Skov.
Using selenium for prevention
So the mechanism of selenium's anti-cancer activities centers on the compound's ability to curb cancer cells' actions of emitting liquid ligands that overstimulate the immune system and cause it to collapse, allowing the cancer cells a clear path to combine and spread.
While researchers work hard to keep Big Pharma profiting in the cancer industry, common folks can boost their selenium levels with foods. In addition to the broccoli and garlic mentioned by the Danish professor, there are other foods even higher in selenium.
Without a doubt, Brazil nuts are one of the best sources of selenium. Then there is shiitake and white button mushrooms, lima and pinto beans, chia seeds, brown rice, sunflower, sesame and flax seeds, as well as cabbage and spinach.
When it comes to garlic, it's wise to buy local organic garlic that isn't sprouting green stems if you live in the USA. Imported garlic is doused with the toxic pesticide methyl bromide. It may also be bleached to make it look fresher than it is after being picked, stored, shipped, and stored again.
Green stems growing from garlic indicate that it's no longer fresh, and the chemical treatments of imported garlic bulbs remove indications of age. The taste may still be there, but the full nutritional value won't.
It is possible to OD on selenium, so one must be keep this in mind. Selenium intake is measured in micrograms (mcg) not milligrams (mg). Watch out if supplementing. Daily intake of selenium shouldn't exceed 400 mcg, with 200 mcg being the minimum.
The plant foods mentioned above, especially a few Brazil nuts containing 50-75 mcg of selenium each, should be sufficient for meeting that range.
Sources for this article include: