A 2016 Italian Survey about the Clinical Use of Selenium in Thyroid Disease

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Abstract

Background:

Selenium (Se) is a trace element that plays key roles in thyroid physiology. Se deficiency is associated with increased risk of thyroid disease. Some evidence suggests that Se supplementation may be beneficial in autoimmune thyroid disease (either hypo- or hyperthyroidism).

Objectives:

We sought to examine the use of Se in daily clinical practice among Italian endocrinologists.

Methods:

Members of the Associazione Medici Endocrinologi (AME) were invited to participate in a web-based survey investigating the use of Se in different clinical conditions.

Results:

A total of 815 individuals (43.2% of AME members) participated in the survey, 778 of whom completed all of the sections. Among these respondents, 85.2% considered using Se for thyroid disease (58.1% rarely/occasionally and 27.1% often/always), and 79.4% prescribed Se for chronic autoimmune thyroiditis (AIT) (39.1% sometimes and 40.3% often/always). About two thirds of the respondents considered Se use in cases of subclinical autoimmune hypothyroidism, and about 40% had suggested Se use for patients with AIT who were planning pregnancy or already pregnant. About one fourth of the respondents had used Se for mild Graves' orbitopathy. Regarding the suggested daily dosage of Se, 60% of the respondents answered 100-200 μg, 20-30% recommended <100 μg, and 10-20% recommended >200 μg.

Conclusions:

Se use is widely considered in daily clinical practice. Moreover, Se supplementation is often used or suggested for purposes extending beyond those supported by evidence-based medicine. Ongoing studies will better clarify how Se treatment can be properly utilized in thyroid disease management.

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