Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Selenium supplements boosts immune system in HIV patients

The Journal News: Taking an inexpensive selenium supplement has shown to boost the immune systems of HIV/AIDS patients regardless of whether they are taking antiretroviral medications, according to a study published yesterday in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

The five-year study, conducted at the University of Miami and funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health, found that taking 200 micrograms daily of a selenium supplement can suppress the progression of the disease and indirectly boost levels of CD4 white blood cells, which attack and destroy infections.

The study involved 262 participants with HIV, some who were taking antiretroviral treatments and some who weren't.

"The results support the use of high selenium yeast as an inexpensive, safe nutritional therapy in HIV spectrum disease," lead study-investigator Barry Hurwitz said in a written statement.

The study doesn't suggest that those who are on antiretroviral therapy can give up their expensive medications, which can cost $20,000 a year or more, and take selenium supplements instead, said Jeff Blumberg, professor of nutrition of Tufts University in Boston.

"I certainly wouldn't want to communicate to anybody that ... we found an alternative to ART, which is not what this study was designed to look at," said Blumberg, who was compensated to speak on behalf of Nutrition 21 Inc., the Purchase-based manufacturer of the supplement used in the study.

The product, known by its brand name Selenomax, sells for $16 for a two-month supply and is already available in all 6,200 CVS/Pharmacy stores across the United States, Nutrition 21 said.


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