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How Brazil Nuts Can Beat Cancer
Selenium also fights tumours once they appear, improving the chances of survival.
Dr Margaret Rayman of the University of Surrey, told the British Association Festival of Science in Exeter that people should aim for a daily intake of around 200 micrograms (mcg) of the mineral.
That cuts risk by between 46 per cent in the case of lung cancer and 76 per cent for prostate cancer, studies have found.
A handful of Brazil nuts a day is enough. Other sources are liver, kidney and shellfish.
People also get some selenium from the soil, through crops such as wheat. However Britons get on average only 30 mcg in their diet today, half the level of the early 1970s.
Doctor Rayman says this is partly because when we joined the forerunner of the European Union, we changed from importing wheat from selenium-rich Canada to European sources, where the soil contains a lot less of the mineral.
She warned that taking more than 450 mcg of selenium a day can cause some toxic effects.
A medical conference in London heard how the spice turmeric, which helps give curries their distinctive flavour and colour, can help protect against leukaemia in children.
Scientists suspect some children are born with a predisposition to the blood cancer and that it is triggered by environmental factors. Infections, viruses, radiation and pesticides are suspected culprits
Professor Moolky Nagabhushan, of the Loyola Medical
Centre in Chicago, told the conference, organised by the charity Children
with Leukaemia, that studies suggest turmeric and its colouring curcumin,
protect against these "triggers".