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Of the many health benefits attributed to selenium, the one that has received the most attention is its role in cancer prevention. Selenium-containing proteins (selenoproteins) have been shown in recent years to have roles in cancer prevention. However, selenoproteins have diverse functions and their view as antioxidants is oversimplified. Some selenoproteins appear to have a split personality in having roles both in preventing and promoting cancer. The contrasting roles of one selenoprotein, thioredoxin reductase 1, in cancer are discussed in detail, but as also noted, at least one other selenoprotein may also have such a dual function. In addition, we discuss examples of inhibition of cancer development by selenoprotein deficiency in mouse models. These studies highlight the complex nature of selenium in relation to cancer.