Skip to main content
Log in

Protective role of selenium against hepatitis B virus and primary liver cancer in Qidong

  • Published:
Biological Trace Element Research Aims and scope Submit manuscript


High rates of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and primary liver cancer (PLC) are present in Qidong county. Epidemiological surveys demonstrated an inverse association between selenium (Se) level and regional cancer incidence, as well as HBV infection. Four-year animal studies showed that dietary supplement of Se reduced the HBV infection by 77.2% and liver precancerous lesion by 75.8% of ducks, caused by exposure to natural environmental etiologic factors. An intervention trial was undertaken among the general population of 130,471. Individuals in five townships were involved for observation of the preventive effect of Se. The 8-yr follow-up data showed reduced PLC incidence by 35.1% in selenized table salt supplemented vs the nonsupplemented population. On withdrawal of Se from the treated group, PLC incidence rate began to increase. However, the inhibitory response to HBV was sustained during the 3-yr cessation of treatment. The clinical study among 226 Hepatitis B Surface Antigen (HBsAg)-positive persons provided either 200 μg of Se in the form of selenized yeast tablet or an identical placebo of yeast tablet daily for 4 yr showed that 7 of 113 subjects were diagnosed as having PLC in the placebo group, whereas no incidence of PLC was found in 113 subjects supplemented with Se. Again on cessation of treatment, PLC developed at a rate comparable to that in the control group, demonstrating that a continuous intake of Se is essential to sustain the chemopreventive effect.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. R. P. Beasley and C. C. Lin, Hepatoma risk among HBsAg carriers,Am. J. Epidemiol. 108, 247 (1978).

    Google Scholar 

  2. W. G. Li, and L. Q. Shao, Experimental study on selenic blockage of primary hepatocarcinoma induced by aflatoxin B1 in rats.Chinese J. Prevent. Med. 21, 11–12 (1987).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. S. Y. Yu, Y. J. Zhu, and W. G. Li, Selenium chemoprevention of liver cancer in animals and possible human application,Biol. Trace Element Res. 15, 231–241 (1988).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. J. E. Spallholz, Selenium: What role in immunity and immune cytotoxcity, in:Selenium in Biology and Medicine, J. E. Spallholz, J. L. Martin, and H. E. Ganther, eds., Westport, CT, pp. 103–117 (1981).

  5. J. E. Spallholz, Anti-inflammatory, Immunologic and Carcinostatic Attributes of Selenium in Experimental Animals, in:Diet and Resistance of Disease, M. Phillips and A. Beetz, eds., Plenum, New York, pp. 43–62, (1981).

    Google Scholar 

  6. L. D. Koller, J. H. Exon, P. A. Talcott, C. A. Osborne, and G. M. Henningsen, Immune response in rats supplemented with selenium.Clin. Exp. Immunol. 63, 570–576 (1986).

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. S. Y. Yu, P. Ao, L. M. Wang, S. L. Huang, H. C. Chen, X. P. Lu, and Q. Y. Liu, Biochemical and cellular aspects of the anticancer activity of selenium.Biol. Trace Element Res. 15, 243–255 (1988).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. S. Y. Yu, X. P. Lu, and S. D. Liao, The regulatory effect of selenium on the expression of oncogenes associated with proliferation and differentiation on tumor cells, in:Metal Ions in Biology and Medicine, P. H. Collory, L. A. Poirier, M. Manfait, and J. C. Etienne, eds., Libbey Eurotext, Paris, pp. 487–489 (1990).

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Yu Yu, S., Zhu, Y.J. & Li, W.G. Protective role of selenium against hepatitis B virus and primary liver cancer in Qidong. Biol Trace Elem Res 56, 117–124 (1997).

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

Index Entries