Effect of long-term selenium supplementation on mortality: Results from a multiple-dose, randomised controlled trial.
- Epidemiology and Public Health Scientific Team
BACKGROUND: Selenium, an essential trace element, is incorporated into selenoproteins with a wide range of health effects. Selenoproteins may reach repletion at a plasma selenium concentration of ~ 125microg/L, at which point the concentration of selenoprotein P reaches a plateau; whether sustained concentrations higher than this are beneficial, or indeed detrimental, is unknown. OBJECTIVE: In a population of relatively low selenium status, we aimed to determine the effect on mortality of long-term selenium supplementation at different dose levels. DESIGN: The Denmark PRECISE study was a single-centre, randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, multi-arm, parallel clinical trial with four groups. Participants were 491 male and female volunteers aged 60-74 years, recruited at Odense University Hospital, Denmark. The trial was initially designed as a 6-month pilot study, but supplemental funding allowed for extension of the study and mortality assessment. Participants were randomly assigned to treatment with 100, 200, or 300microg selenium/d as selenium-enriched-yeast or placebo-yeast for 5 years from randomization in 1998-1999 and were followed up for mortality for a further 10 years (through March 31, 2015). RESULTS: During 6871 person-years of follow-up, 158 deaths occurred. In an intention-to-treat analysis, the hazard ratio (95% confidence interval) for all-cause mortality comparing 300microg selenium/d to placebo was 1.62 (0.66, 3.96) after 5 years of treatment and 1.59 (1.02, 2.46) over the entire follow-up period. The 100 and 200microg/d doses showed non-significant decreases in mortality during the intervention period that disappeared after treatment cessation. Although we lacked power for endpoints other than all-cause mortality, the effects on cancer and cardiovascular mortality appeared similar. CONCLUSIONS: A 300microg/d dose of selenium taken for 5 years in a country with moderately-low selenium status increased all-cause mortality 10 years later. While our study was not initially designed to evaluate mortality and the sample size was limited, our findings indicate that total selenium intake over 300microg/d and high-dose selenium supplements should be avoided.