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Three Public Health Professors Collaborate on Selenium Colorectal Cancer Chemoprevention Trials

Study collaborators from the UA Zuckerman College of Public Health:

• Denise Roe, DrPH, Professor of Biostatistics and Director of Biometry

• Elizabeth Jacobs, PhD, Associate Professor of Epidemiology

• Paul Hsu, PhD, Associate Professor of Biostatistics

A $4.9 million grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) will fund novel randomized controlled trials to measure the effect of the dietary mineral supplement selenium in preventing colorectal adenomas (polyps) and advanced colorectal adenomas, the benign precursors to most colorectal cancers. Colorectal cancer is the second most-common cause of death from cancer in men and women combined, accounting for almost 50,000 deaths annually. The study also will determine if selenium supplementation increases risk for pre-diabetes or Type 2 Diabetes.

The study will be led by Peter Lance, MD, FRCP, the UACC’s Chief Cancer Prevention and Control Officer and Professor of Medicine, Molecular and Cellular Biology and Public Health, and Patricia Thompson, PhD, co-leader of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program and an Associate Professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine. Dr. Lance’s medical specialty is gastrointestinal cancers. Dr. Thompson’s research expertise is the development of biological markers of human disease and their application, with an emphasis on colorectal cancer.

Study collaborators from the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health include Professor Denise Roe, DrPH (Biostatics); and Associate Professors Elizabeth Jacobs, PhD (Epidemiology), and Paul Hsu, PhD (Biostatistics).

While most adenomas can be removed by a colonoscopy, Dr. Lance said 20 to 50 percent of individuals undergoing a repeat colonoscopy three to five years later have new adenomas. He, Dr. Thompson and their team will study whether treatment with selenium yeast for three to five years will reduce the rate of recurring adenomas without serious toxicity. Initial research into the effectiveness of selenium on polyp recurrence was done though The University of Arizona Cancer Center’s colon cancer prevention program project grant.

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