Gastric cancer risk: The influence of selenium status and selenoprotein genetic variation

Dietary and lifestyle factors and infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori play important roles in the development of different types of stomach (gastric) cancer (GC), one of the top ten most serious cancers in Europe. Selenium is a micronutrient needed in small amounts for important proteins, called selenoproteins, countering oxidative and inflammatory processes linked to cancer development. However, selenium availability in most Irish and European soils is insufficient for optimum dietary levels, which has been connected, along with variations in the genes encoding selenoproteins, to increased risk of cancer development at different anatomical sites. However, the potential link between selenium and risk of developing GC has not been adequately studied. Our proposal is set within the European-Prospective-Investigation-of-Cancer-and-Nutrition (EPIC) study composed of approximately 520,000 participants across 10 Western European countries. During enrolment in the 1990s when the participants were healthy and cancer-free extensive dietary and lifestyle information and blood samples were taken. Since then, 750 individuals have been diagnosed with GC during cohort follow-up. These "cases" have been closely matched with 750 cancer-free individuals (the "controls") with similar age, sex, nationality, and other factors thought to influence cancer risk. In all of these, we will measure three blood markers of selenium status, i.e., how much selenium is used by the body for biological processes that require selenoproteins (levels of selenium and the main selenium transport proteins, Selenoprotein P and Glutathione peroxidase 3) and also hereditary variations in selenoprotein genes. Application of appropriate statistical analysis methods will determine if selenium status is significantly associated with GC risk in European populations, and if these may interact together with other genetic and dietary/lifestyle factors to modify this risk. This project will indicate if increasing selenium intake may help prevent GC where selenium status is suboptimal and also for individuals of particular selenoprotein gene variants.


Award Date
29 June 2017
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Dr David Hughes
Host Institution
University College Dublin
Investigator Led Projects