ContextSecondary analyses of 2 randomized controlled trials and supportive epidemiologic and preclinical data indicated the potential of selenium and vitamin E for preventing prostate cancer.
ObjectiveTo determine whether selenium, vitamin E, or both could prevent prostate cancer and other diseases with little or no toxicity in relatively healthy men.
Design, setting, and participantsA randomized, placebo-controlled trial (Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial [SELECT]) of 35,533 men from 427 participating sites in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico randomly assigned to 4 groups (selenium, vitamin E, selenium + vitamin E, and placebo) in a double-blind fashion between August 22, 2001, and June 24, 2004. Baseline eligibility included age 50 years or older (African American men) or 55 years or older (all other men), a serum prostate-specific antigen level of 4 ng/mL or less, and a digital rectal examination not suspicious for prostate cancer.
InterventionsOral selenium (200 microg/d from L-selenomethionine) and matched vitamin E placebo, vitamin E (400 IU/d of all rac-alpha-tocopheryl acetate) and matched selenium placebo, selenium + vitamin E, or placebo + placebo for a planned follow-up of minimum of 7 years and a maximum of 12 years.
Main outcome measuresProstate cancer and prespecified secondary outcomes, including lung, colorectal, and overall primary cancer.
ResultsAs of October 23, 2008, median overall follow-up was 5.46 years (range, 4.17-7.33 years). Hazard ratios (99% confidence intervals [CIs]) for prostate cancer were 1.13 (99% CI, 0.95-1.35; n = 473) for vitamin E, 1.04 (99% CI, 0.87-1.24; n = 432) for selenium, and 1.05 (99% CI, 0.88-1.25; n = 437) for selenium + vitamin E vs 1.00 (n = 416) for placebo. There were no significant differences (all P>.15) in any other prespecified cancer end points. There were statistically nonsignificant increased risks of prostate cancer in the vitamin E group (P = .06) and type 2 diabetes mellitus in the selenium group (relative risk, 1.07; 99% CI, 0.94-1.22; P = .16) but not in the selenium + vitamin E group.
ConclusionSelenium or vitamin E, alone or in combination at the doses and formulations used, did not prevent prostate cancer in this population of relatively healthy men.
Trial registrationclinicaltrials.gov identifier: NCT00006392.