Monday, October 02, 2006

Man dies of Selenium overdose

I am often told by supporters of natural medicine that "alternative" or "natural" treatments are safe, simply because they are natural. A reminder that tobacco is a natural herb and uranium a natural mineral is usually all that's needed to point out that natural and safe are not synonymous.

A report written up in the Medical Journal of Australia details the death of a 75 year old male who had a prostate cancer scare. An initial report showed elevated antigens for prostate cancer. Before further test could be completed to verify or exclude the presence of prostate cancer, the man used the internet to see what he could take.

The "natural" supplement he chose to help him with his (as yet unconfirmed) cancer was selenium. A google search for selenium and "prostate cancer" done while writing this blog found 454,000 matches. With that many hits it's easy to understand how he could have determined that selenium can assist with prostate cancer.

Our patient then purchased selenium supplements from 2 different pharmacies. (In Australia, most supplements are sold by the same people licensed to dispense prescription only medications) The National Institutes of Health's tolerable upper intake of selenium is 400 micrograms. Luckily, many supplements are very low in the active element, with glucose being used as a filler. The unlucky man in this case purchased sodium selenite, which is much higher purity at 96%.

After ingesting 10 grams, some 250,000 times greater than the tolerable limit suggested, the man became very ill. He took the selenium at 7:00 am, was in hospital by 10:30 am and despite the best efforts of the medical staff, was deceased by 1:00 pm.

There is growing evidence of a correlation between low selenium levels and prostate cancers. However, there still needs to be further research to confirm the nature of the link and then, if proven, determine what level of selenium is optimal. There also needs to be research to work out how the selenium works and what side effects, if any, may occur. This research is going on in places such as the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo NY and many universities.

It is also important to understand that a substance that may reduce the incidence of cancer will not automatically cure a cancer if taken in large quanitities. Rather than help, this case shows that large amounts of supplements can be deadly. This case shows clearly that natural does not mean safe and that more is not always better.

In all cases where your health is concerned, see your medically trained doctor. Don't try to self-medicate and don't fall for the dangerous belief that natural means effective or even safe. If you are unsure, get a second opinion from another medically trained doctor.

"There is only one truth. How we interpret that truth is called belief."
"The existence of belief does not indicate the presence of truth."

21 Comments:

At Saturday, September 01, 2007 1:18:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...After ingesting 10 grams..."

This unfortunate fellow is a Darwin Award candidate. That's an outrageous amount.

 
At Thursday, July 10, 2008 1:56:00 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ld warn people not to eat too many Brazil nuts too. They can be high in selenium, the RDI being met in just two nuts. The upper limit of 400 micrograms could be met in a small handful.

 
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At Saturday, September 17, 2011 5:40:00 pm, Anonymous Erectile dysfunction remedy said...

This is a really bad news for everyone. How can someone die like this that too his life has gone in vain.

 
At Sunday, September 18, 2011 12:43:00 am, Anonymous Skinception effective stretch mark therapy said...

A natural herb and uranium a natural mineral is usually all that's needed to point out that naturals....

 
At Saturday, November 05, 2011 12:11:00 am, Anonymous safe meds said...

This is really interesting to know because sometimes we don't know those facts , sometimes industries and other means are responsible for the fact that a lot of people having cancer.

 
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This is a shocking information! This is also an alarm for everyone.

 
At Saturday, November 19, 2011 2:48:00 am, Anonymous Best weight loss pills review said...

There also needs to be research to work out how the selenium works and what side effects,

 
At Monday, November 28, 2011 6:16:00 am, Anonymous Melatrol natural sleep aid said...

There is not well described that what is the limit that a man can have the Selenium?If it is expressed then it will be good for us to understand.

 
At Friday, January 06, 2012 12:11:00 am, Anonymous NeosizeXL increase penis size pills said...

Selenium overdose is always dangerous . People should use it carefully .

 
At Sunday, January 08, 2012 5:27:00 pm, Anonymous Vigaplus natural ED pills said...

The "natural" supplement he chose to help him with his (as yet unconfirmed) cancer was selenium.

 
At Friday, February 03, 2012 4:30:00 am, Anonymous Best Washing Machine 2012 said...

i hears in some countries selenium is forbidden. How can be possible?

 
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Its unfortunately that a man died of selenium overdoses but the big problem here is where did he died...

 
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This unfortunate fellow is a Darwin Award candidate. That's an outrageous amount.

 
At Tuesday, February 21, 2012 6:40:00 am, Anonymous As seen on TV said...

I never used drugs but i never understood how people cand die of overdose...the pleasure is so big or what ?

 
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At Friday, September 12, 2014 6:05:00 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up on a farm, it is no surprise to me that farming depletes soil nutrients..and government pushed by big pharma wants to restrict supplements..what so we will have to live off drugs? Seems logical. One crazy old man took a crazy dosage and because of that we all should pay? As if the same thing couldn't have happened with a bottle of asprin.

 
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