Over the last 10–15 years, selenium deficiency was found to increase viral pathogenicity by inducing permanent changes in the viral genome to increase its virulence, and selenium supplements appeared to lower the risk of certain important cancers. These observations stimulated both fundamental and public health research on this important trace element. More than 35 proteins have been identified where selenium is a constituent element but, for many of these, there is still no known function. Furthermore, the persuasive properties of selenium compounds as cancer preventive agents in man have so far eluded identification.
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