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Chemotherapy-induced Cardiomyopathy- Selenium

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Chemotherapy-induced cardiomyopathy is a little known but serious side effect for cancer patients undergoing any type of cardiotoxic chemotherapy regimens.


I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in early 1994. I underwent the FDA standard-of-care therapy plan which included several cardiotoxic therapies including:

  • adriamycin,
  • melphalan,
  • cytoxan
  • and busulphan. 

I was diagnosed with chemotherapy-induced cardiomyopathy in late 2021 fully 15 years after my active cancer therapies. Both cardiologists I met with prescribed metoprolol. Neither mentioned anything about

  • Nutrition
  • Supplementation or
  • Exercise

I developed difficulties with this drug in the days that followed and decided to research and build into my lifestyle as many evidence-based, non-conventional heart health therapies as I could.

Selenium is one of those therapies.

How is selenium involved in heart health?

  1. Antioxidant Properties: Selenium is a crucial component of the enzyme glutathione peroxidase, which protects cells from oxidative damage by neutralizing free radicals. Oxidative stress is a significant factor in the development of cardiovascular diseases (CVD), such as atherosclerosis. By reducing oxidative stress, selenium helps prevent damage to the heart and blood vessels.
  2. Inflammation Reduction: Chronic inflammation is another contributor to heart disease. Selenium has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce the inflammation that contributes to the development and progression of CVD.
  3. Immune System Support: Selenium supports the immune system, which plays a role in preventing infections that can affect the heart. A healthy immune system can help prevent myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and other conditions that can lead to heart damage.
  4. Thyroid Function: Selenium is essential for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland, which regulates metabolism. Thyroid hormones have a significant impact on heart rate and cardiovascular function. Adequate selenium levels ensure optimal thyroid function, which in turn supports heart health.
  5. Endothelial Function: The endothelium is the inner lining of blood vessels, and its proper function is crucial for vascular health. Selenium helps maintain endothelial function, promoting vascular relaxation and preventing abnormal blood clotting, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
  6. Lipid Metabolism: Selenium plays a role in lipid metabolism, influencing cholesterol levels. Some studies suggest that adequate selenium levels are associated with healthier lipid profiles, including lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and higher levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.

Research and Studies

Several studies have explored the relationship between selenium levels and heart health:

  • Observational Studies: Some observational studies have found an association between low selenium levels and an increased risk of heart disease. For example, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that low selenium levels were associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease.
  • Supplementation Studies: The results of selenium supplementation studies have been mixed. Some studies suggest that selenium supplements can reduce the risk of heart disease, while others do not find significant benefits. The effectiveness of supplementation may depend on baseline selenium levels, as individuals with selenium deficiency are more likely to benefit.
  • Selenium and Selenoproteins: Research has shown that selenoproteins, which are proteins that contain selenium, are important for heart health. These proteins have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that protect cardiovascular health.

Recommended Selenium Intake

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for selenium varies by age, sex, and life stage, but for most adults, it is around 55 micrograms per day. Selenium can be obtained from dietary sources such as:

  • Brazil nuts (one of the richest sources)
  • Seafood (e.g., tuna, sardines, shrimp)
  • Meats (e.g., beef, turkey, chicken)
  • Eggs
  • Grains and seeds

Annal echocardiograms tell me that I have managed to stabilize and even improve many of the heart metrics that measure my heart health. I am not saying that my chemotherapy-induced cardiomyopathy is no longer a worry, much less cured.

What I am saying is that there are other ways to manage chemotherapy-induced cardiomyopathy than with conventional heart medications. Medications which often come with a long list of side effects.

I am not any sort of medical professional. I research and write about my experiences. I do not mean to apply any of this information and experience to my fellow cancer survivors who have chemotherapy-induced cardiomyopathy .

Are you a cancer patient undergoing cardiotoxic therapies? To learn more about both conventional and non-conventional therapies to reduce your risk of chemotherapy-induced cardiomyopathy, email me at David.PeopleBeatingCancer@gmail.com

thank you,

David Emerson

  • Cancer Survivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Selenium and Its Supplementation in Cardiovascular Disease—What do We Know?

Conclusions-In summary, there exists an impressive body of evidence about the several important functions of selenium and its selenoproteins in the cardiovascular system, which are mainly due to its well-known antioxidant characteristics. Although the role of selenium supplementation in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases is inconclusive, it is important to clarify if selenium deficiency leads to new health implications, particularly in relation to acute cardiovascular disease, where patients are exposed to myocardial I/R and increased oxidative stress.”

Impact of dietary selenium intake on cardiac health: experimental approaches and human studies

“Selenium, a dietary trace mineral, essential for humans and animals, exerts its effects mainly through its incorporation into selenoproteins. Adequate selenium intake is needed to maximize the activity of selenoproteins, among which glutathione peroxidases have been shown to play a major role in cellular defense against oxidative stress initiated by excess reactive oxygen species.

In humans, a low selenium status has been linked to increased risk of various diseases, including heart disease.

The main objective of this review is to present current knowledge on the role of selenium in cardiac health. Experimental studies have shown that selenium may exert protective effects on cardiac tissue in animal models involving oxidative stress.

Because of the narrow safety margin of this mineral, most interventional studies in humans have reported inconsistent findings. Major determinants of selenium status in humans are not well understood and several nondietary factors might be associated with reduced selenium status. In this review, we discuss recent studies regarding the role of selenoproteins in the cardiovascular system, the effect of dietary intake on selenium status, the impact of selenium status on cardiac health, and the cellular mechanisms that can be involved in the physiological and toxic effects of selenium.”

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