Higher plasma selenium concentrations are associated with increased odds of prevalent type 2 diabetes

Lindsay N. Kohler, Ana Florea, Connor P. Kelley, Sherry Chow, Paul Hsu, Ken Batai, Kathylynn Saboda, Peter Lance, Elizabeth T. Jacobs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Background: Selenium, an essential trace element, has been investigated as a potential cancer prevention agent. However, several studies have indicated that selenium supplementation may be associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D), although an equivocal relation of this nature requires confirmation. Objective: We examined the association between baseline plasma concentrations of selenium and the prevalence of T2D, as well as whether participant characteristics or intake of other antioxidant nutrients modified this relation. Methods: We conducted cross-sectional analyses of 1727 participants from the Selenium Trial, a randomized clinical trial of selenium supplementation for colorectal adenoma chemoprevention that had data for baseline selenium plasma concentrations, T2D status, and dietary intake. Logistic regression modeling was used to evaluate the associations between plasma selenium concentrations and prevalent T2D, adjusting for confounding factors. Heterogeneity of effect by participant characteristics was evaluated utilizing likelihood-ratio tests. Results: Mean ± SD plasma selenium concentrations for those with T2D compared with those without T2D were 143.6 ± 28.9 and 138.7 ± 27.2 ng/mL, respectively. After adjustment for confounding, higher plasma selenium concentrations were associated with a higher prevalence of T2D, with ORs (95% CIs) of 1.25 (0.80, 1.95) and 1.77 (1.16, 2.71) for the second and third tertiles of plasma selenium, respectively, compared with the lowest tertile (P-trend = 0.007). No significant effect modification was observed for age, sex, body mass index, smoking, or ethnicity. Increased odds of T2D were seen among those who were in the highest tertile of plasma selenium and the highest category of intake of β-cryptoxanthin (P-trend = 0.03) and lycopene (P-trend = 0.008); however, interaction terms were not significant. Conclusions: These findings show that higher plasma concentrations of selenium were significantly associated with prevalent T2D among participants in a selenium supplementation trial. Future work is needed to elucidate whether there are individual characteristics, such as blood concentrations of other antioxidants, which may influence this relation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1333-1340
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018


  • Antioxidants
  • Selenium
  • Supplementation
  • Trace elements
  • Type 2 diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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