Biological Trace Element Research

, Volume 167, Issue 2, pp 225–235 | Cite as

The Association Between Serum Levels of Selenium, Copper, and Magnesium with Thyroid Cancer: a Meta-analysis

  • Fei Shen
  • Wen-Song Cai
  • Jiang-Lin Li
  • Zhe Feng
  • Jie CaoEmail author
  • Bo XuEmail author


There are conflicting reports on the correlation between serum levels of selenium (Se), copper (Cu), and magnesium (Mg) with thyroid cancer. The purpose of the present study is to clarify the association between Se, Cu, and Mg levels with thyroid cancer using a meta-analysis approach. We searched articles indexed in PubMed published as of January 2015 that met our predefined criteria. Eight eligible articles involving 1291 subjects were identified. Overall, pooled analysis indicated that subjects with thyroid cancer had lower serum levels of Se and Mg, but higher levels of Cu than the healthy controls [Se: standardized mean difference (SMD) = −0.485, 95% confidence interval (95%CI) = (−0.878, −0.092), p = 0.016; Cu: SMD = 2.372, 95%CI = (0.945, 3.799), p = 0.001; Mg: SMD = −0.795, 95%CI = (−1.092, −0.498), p < 0.001]. Further subgroup analysis found lower serum levels of Se in thyroid cancer in Norway [SMD = −0.410, 95%CI = (−0.758, −0.062), p = 0.021] and Austria [SMD = −0.549, 95%CI = (−0.743, −0.355), p < 0.001], but not in Poland (SMD = −0.417, 95%CI = (−1.724, 0.891), p = 0.532]. Further subgroup analysis also found that patients with thyroid cancer had higher serum levels of Cu in China [SMD = 1.571, 95%CI = (1.121, 2.020), p < 0.001] and Turkey [SMD = 0.977, 95%CI = (0.521, 1.432), p < 0.001], but not in Poland [SMD = 3.471, 95%CI = (−0.056, 6.997], p = 0.054]. In conclusion, this meta-analysis supports a significant association between serum levels of Se, Cu, and Mg with thyroid cancer. However, the subgroup analysis found that there was significant effect modification of Se, Cu levels by ethnic, like China and Poland. Thus, this finding needs further confirmation by a trans-regional multicenter study to obtain better understanding of causal relationship between Se, Cu, and Mg with thyroid cancer of different human races or regions.


Selenium Copper Magnesium Thyroid cancer Meta-analysis 



The project was supported by the Guangzhou medicine and health care technology projects (20141A011011).

Conflict of Interest

The authors report no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

12011_2015_304_Fig5_ESM.gif (63 kb)
Supplement Material Figure S1

Newcastle-Ottawa Scale (NOS) (GIF 63 kb)

12011_2015_304_MOESM1_ESM.tif (1.9 mb)
High resolution image (TIFF 1992 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of General Surgery, Guangzhou First People’s HospitalGuangzhou Medical UniversityYuexiu DistrictPeople’s Republic of China

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