Lack of Association between Fingernail Selenium and Thyroid Cancer Risk: A Case-Control Study in French Polynesia


Background: Numerous studies have suggested that selenium deficiency may be associated with an increased risk for several types of cancer, but few have focused on thyroid cancer. Materials and
Methods: We examined the association between post-diagnostic fingernail selenium levels and differentiated thyroid cancer risk in a French Polynesian matched case-control study. Conditional logistic regression models were used to estimate odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals.
Results: The median selenium concentration among controls was0.76 μg/g. Significantly, we found no association between fingernail selenium levels and thyroid cancer risk after conditioning on year of birth and sex and additionally adjusting for date of birth (highest versus lowest quartile: odds-ratio=1.12, 95% confidence interval: 0.66-1.90; p-trend=0.30). After additional adjustment for other covariates, this association remained non-significant (p-trend=0.60). When restricting the analysis to thyroid cancer of 10 mm or more, selenium in nails was non-significantly positively linked to thyroid cancer risk (p-trend=0.09). Although no significant interaction was evidenced between iodine in nails and selenium in nails effect (p=0.70), a non-significant (p-trend =0.10) positive association between selenium and thyroid cancer risk was seen in patients with less than 3 ppm of iodine in nails. The highest fingernail selenium concentration in French Polynesia was in the Marquises Islands (M=0.87 μg/g) and in the Tuamotu-Gambier Archipelago (M=0.86 μg/g).
Conclusions: Our results do not support, among individuals with sufficient levels of selenium, that greater long-term exposure to selenium may reduce thyroid cancer risk. Because these findings are based on post-diagnostic measures, studies with prediagnostic selenium are needed for corroboration.