Recommendation 14 Background

The AICR/WCRF panel assessed evidence related to the following minerals and trace elements: calcium together with vitamin D, selenium, iodine and iron. According to them, the evidence for other minerals and trace elements and the risk of cancer is insubstantial.

Minerals and Cancer

Evidence Decreases risk No relationship Increases risk
Probable     Iodine deficiency: Thyroid
Possible Selenium: Lung Calcium: Colon, Rectum

Selenium: Colon, Rectum

Iodine excess: Thyroid
Insufficient Vitamin D: Colon, Rectum

Selenium: Stomach, Liver, Thyroid

  Iron: Liver, Colon, Rectum

From Food, Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective, 1997


Minerals Food sources
Calcium Dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, ice milk, puddings; canned fish when eaten with their bones; collard greens, mustard greens, broccoli, kale, turnip greens; tofu processed with calcium sulfate; fortified soy milk; tortillas made from lime-processed corn, blackstrap molasses.
Selenium Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, shrimp, salmon, canned tuna, pork, ham, beef, poultry, liver, whole wheat bread, cracked wheat bread. The selenium content of foods depends on the selenium content of the soil on which crops are grown and livestock and poultry are raised.
Iron Liver, oysters, beef, pork, clams, dry legumes such as lentils, beans, peas, lima beans, tofu, poultry, fish, eggs, breads and cereals, dried fruits such as apricots, raisins, prunes, some vegetables such as greens, broccoli, brussels sprouts, corn, pumpkin, rhubarb, winter squash, sweet potato, tomato, some fruits such as watermelon, strawberries, bananas, cantaloupe.
Iodine Seafood, seaweed, plants grown in soils of adequate iodine concentration, iodized salt.

More on cancer risk in Recommendation 14/Vitamins, Recommendation 14/Phytochemicals.

For a summary of research on selenium and cancer visit the web site for the Center for Alternative Medicine at:

For practical advice see Recommendation 14 "How to"


EXTOXNET FAQS Diet and Cancer Homepage

Prepared 1998 by Bernadene Magnuson, Ph.D.
University of Idaho, Dept. of Food Science and Toxicology - EXTOXNET FAQ Team.