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Health News Archive 199 - Colon Cancer
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Lower Colon Cancer Risk for Women with High Magnesium Intake

Drs Aaron R Folson and Ching-Ping Hong at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis have confirmed an association between diets that contain higher amounts of magnesium and a reduced risk of colon cancer among women. Their report was published in the February 1, 2006 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Acting on the findings of a recent study that discovered a link between higher amounts of magnesium and a lower incidence of colorectal cancer among Swedish women, Drs Folson and Hong analyzed data from 35,196 women aged 55 to 69 who had taken part in the Iowa Women's Health Study. Food frequency questionnaires completed upon enrollment were used to determine the amount of magnesium and other nutrients obtained from food and supplements. The participants were followed from 1986 though 2002, during which 1,112 women were diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

The average magnesium intake of the women was found to be 302 milligrams per day. The minimum daily requirement - the amount to keep a person from dying or becoming ill from a deficiency - of magnesium is 400 mg per day.  The researchers did not comment on the average poor nutrition of their study population.

Women whose magnesium was in the top fifth had a 23 percent lower risk of developing colon cancer than those whose intake was in the lowest fifth, while those whose intake was in the second and third fifths experienced a 15 and 12 percent reduction.

The authors suggested decreased insulin resistance, oxidative stress and cell proliferation as possible preventive mechanisms for magnesium, and remarked that foods high in magnesium such as vegetables and grains have already been shown to be protective against colorectal cancer because of their fiber content and beneficial micronutrients. Magnesium assists in calcium absorption and calcium has shown to be protective against colon cancer in other studies. Therefore, it was not clear after this 15-year study whether magnesium alone or other aspects of a healthy diet are responsible for the effects revealed in this study.

Source: Aaron R. Folsom and Ching-Ping Hong; Magnesium Intake and Reduced Risk of Colon Cancer in a Prospective Study of Women. Am. J. Epidemiol. 2006 163: 232-235;

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