The story of selenium (Se) in medicine is a story of surprise, excessive generalization, sheer prejudice, lingering uncertainty, triumphant breakthroughs and mere errors1, and this tradition has still been carried on in recent years. Initially, Se was recognized as a poisonous element, closely linked to its well-known and badly feared neighbour on the periodic table, arsenic. With the demonstration of its essentiality in the late 1950s by Klaus Schwarz2, its general appreciation changed dramatically.

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