Selenium and Culture Essay

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Sociological Beliefs on the Ethical use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine:
Selenium Supplementation and Cancer
Joseph Guerrero Lopez
Dr. Darlene Haft
SOC 466
Nevada State College
FALL 2012

As it stands, “conventional medicine has not been meeting the needs of the American public in the areas of disease prevention and the management of the myriad new and chronic illnesses” (Clark, 2000). Due to this need, people have indeed gone towards new approaches towards more holistic approaches that are involved with the use of alternative medicine. Alternative medicine therapies can range from acupuncture, herbal pills, powders, and teas which have been used in history to treat ailments and to promote health (Clark, 2000). Even though the prevalence of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies is not generally considered a part of conventional medicine, people have begun to increasingly utilize it.
According to Clark, CAM’s substantial growth since the early 1990s in the United States showed that 33.8% of U.S. adults reported at least using one unconventional therapy in the past years, and a third of these saw providers for unconventional therapy (2000). Since the poignant research conducted by Eisenberg etal in 1997, the use of CAM has exploded in popularity and it has not been too far from the scrutiny of orthodox medicine. Even though the popularity of these medical practices has increased, the use of CAM has brought about many negative attitudes because there is not enough research that proves the substantial and credible evidence of their effectiveness. Medical professionals have been uncanny in questioning not only the efficacy and safety of such uncommon medical practices, but its significance in the world today. There are many ethical questions surrounding the use of such alternative medicine practices and the primary concern revolves around the practical integration of alternative medicine therapies as a complement to conventional medicine (Clark, 2000). As sociological beliefs of academics have shunned and explicitly discouraged the attempt of such research, however, their thinking has been shifting towards a more positive adoption of CAM into mainstream medical practices. In fact, tests are still being continued on a trace element called Selenium in labs which have continued towards the contributions in Cancer research.
Cancer, Selenium, and the Human Society
Cancer prevention remains the ideal strategy for reducing the burden of cancer on the human society. As a direct result of the world’s ever-changing scientific knowledge and technology, it can be said that innovative alternatives have since been implemented to improve the fight against this major public health problem. In lieu of clinical trials that have already been completed, reported, and those that are still in progress, it is also important to note that in the past decade, a significant reduction in cancer incidence has been correlated to distinct lifestyle changes and medical approaches that are attributable to CAM. To date, there have been many progressions in the treatment of various forms of cancers and “dietary factors, dietary supplements, [as well as] physical activity might be important in the prevention of [this] disease” (Wolk 2005).
As more and more evidence relate distinct diet changes as an avenue of intervention, dietary supplementation of certain trace minerals may also hold the key for decreasing cancer risk. Thus far, the role of the essential trace mineral, Selenium, in human health and disease is currently a subject of intense interest. In particular, the possible cancer preventative effects of this dietary supplement are now being investigated in several human, animal, and cell culture studies. As previously states there have been negative attitudes towards the use of CAM, quite specifically, the use of supplements that has not gone through the Food and Drug