Cross sectional study of serum selenium concentration and esophageal squamous dysplasia in western Kenya

Natalie R. Pritchett, Stephen L. Burgert, Gwen A. Murphy, John D. Brockman, Russell E. White, Justus Lando, Robert Chepkwony, Mark D. Topazian, Christian C. Abnet, Sanford M. Dawsey, Michael M. Mwachiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Low serum selenium status has been associated with increased risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). East Africa is a region of high ESCC incidence and is known to have low soil selenium levels, but this association has not previously been evaluated. In this study we assessed the association of serum selenium concentration and the prevalence of esophageal squamous dysplasia (ESD), the precursor lesion of ESCC, in a cross-sectional study of subjects from Bomet, Kenya.

METHODS: 294 asymptomatic adult residents of Bomet, Kenya completed questionnaires and underwent endoscopy with Lugol's iodine staining and biopsy for detection of ESD. Serum selenium concentrations were measured by instrumental neutron activation analysis. Odds ratios (OR) and confidence intervals (95% CI) for associations between serum selenium and ESD were calculated using unconditional logistic regression.

CONCLUSION: This is the first study to evaluate the association of serum selenium concentration and esophageal squamous dysplasia in an African population at high risk for ESCC. We found a positive association between higher serum selenium concentration and prevalence of ESD, an association contrary to our original hypothesis. Further work is needed to better understand the role of selenium in the etiology of ESCC in this region, and to develop effective ESCC prevention and control strategies.

RESULTS: The mean serum selenium concentration was 85.5 (±28.3) μg/L. Forty-two ESD cases were identified (14% of those screened), including 5 (12%) in selenium quartile 1 (Q1), 5 (12%) in Q2, 15 (36%) in Q3, and 17 (40%) in Q4. Higher serum selenium was associated with prevalence of ESD (Q4 vs Q1: OR: 3.03; 95% CI: 1.05-8.74) and this association remained after adjusting for potential confounders (Q4 vs Q1: OR: 3.87; 95% CI: 1.06-14.19).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number835
Pages (from-to)835
Number of pages1
JournalBMC cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 8 2017


  • Esophageal
  • Kenya
  • Selenium
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Squamous dysplasia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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