Selenium pp 13-21 | Cite as

Selenium: Geochemical Distribution and Associations with Human Heart and Cancer Death Rates and Longevity in China and the United States

  • M. L. Jackson


The geochemistry of available soil Se varies enormously in different localities, and the corresponding amounts moving up through crops to food vary accordingly. In a belt extending from northeastern to south central China, the available soil Se was measured by human blood Se levels. Severe deficiency occurred at 8–26 ng/mL; subadequate amounts occurred in large areas with 32–83 ng/mL; adequate amounts of 200–300 ng/mL occurred in large cities; and toxic amounts of 3000–7800 ng/mL occurred in terrace areas where runoff from the uplands evaporated, and in certain other soils. Some heart deaths (Keshan Disease) occurred in children 1 to 10 yr of age in the most deficient areas, but were prevented by 230–900 µg/wk Se supplementation. One mg Se/wk was the adult dosage. In Se deficient areas, the life span of adults was lowered severely (35 to 45 yr), with heart muscle damage common at autopsy. Se and Zn deficiencies are apparently associated with stomach cancer. The geochemistry of Se in the USA is also highly variable, blood Se ranging from 100–350 ng/mL. Se data for individuals are limited; however, ischemic heart death correlated inversely with blood Se in 25 cities of 22 states (r = -.70; p < .01). Counties of Wisconsin and Florida are highly variable in human heart death and cancer death rates, as are the 50 states, suggesting Se geographic variability.

Index Entries

Geochemistry of Se geographic variability heart deaths cancer Se supplementation longevity 


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Copyright information

© The Humana Press Inc. 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. L. Jackson
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Wisconsin, SoilsMadisonUSA

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