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Selenium is a trace element, which is utilized by the human body in selenoproteins. Their main function is to reduce oxidative stress, which plays an important role in lymphedema and lipedema. In addition, selenium deficiency is associated with an impaired immune function. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of selenium deficiency in these conditions, and if it is associated with disease severity and an associated medical condition such as obesity. This cross-sectional study is an anonymized, retrospective analysis of clinical data that was routinely recorded in a clinic specialized in lymphology. The data was comprised from 791 patients during 2012-2019, in which the selenium status was determined as part of their treatment. Selenium deficiency proved common in patients with lymphedema, lipedema, and lipo-lymphedema affecting 47.5% of the study population. Selenium levels were significantly lower in patients with obesity-related lymphedema compared to patients with cancer-related lymphedema (96.6 ± 18.0 μg/L vs. 105.1 ± 20.2 μg/L; p < 0.0001). Obesity was a risk factor for selenium deficiency in lymphedema (OR 2.19; 95% CI 1.49 to 3.21), but not in lipedema. In countries with low selenium supply, selenium deficiency is common, especially in lymphedema patients. Therefore, it would be sensible to check the selenium status in lymphedema patients, especially those with obesity, as the infection risk of lymphedema is already increased.


Christina Pfister, Horst Dawczynski, Franz-Josef Schingale. Selenium Deficiency in Lymphedema and Lipedema-A Retrospective Cross-Sectional Study from a Specialized Clinic. Nutrients. 2020 Apr 25;12(5)

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PMID: 32344864

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