HC Deb 11 February 2000 vol 344 cc331-2W
Mr. Hammond

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans his Department has for publicising the value of selenium in the diet in reducing incidence of cancer. [107662]

Yvette Cooper

Selenium is an essential trace element which is particularly important in protecting the body against oxidative damage of the cells. Such damage is linked to diseases such as cancer and heart disease. It is therefore hypothesised that increasing selenium in the diet may decrease the risk of cancer.

The influence of diet and nutrition on the incidence of cancer was considered by the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy in its 1998 report entitled "Nutritional Aspects of the Development of Cancer"' which stated that there was not enough evidence to reach conclusions for any specific links between selenium in the diet and cancer. We are funding research into the role of antioxidants, including selenium, in health and disease.

We have made reduction in death rates from cancer one of our four headline targets in our health strategy "Saving Lives: Our Healthier Nation". Action towards this target includes promoting a healthy and balanced diet, that is one which is varied and rich in cereals, fruit and vegetables. 1 Department of Health. "Nutritional Aspects of the Development of Cancer". London: The Station Office, 1998. (Report on Health and Social Subjects, No. 48).

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