Taking magnesium may reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer, one of the most deadly cancers, according to a study in 2015. Magnesium is known to reduce the risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes (T2D), which are risk factors for pancreatic cancer. In fact, between 65 to 80 percent of pancreatic cancer patients have some form of glucose intolerance, including prediabetes or T2D.
Until now, it was not known whether magnesium indirectly reduced the risk of pancreatic cancer (by reducing the risk of diabetes) or whether it had a direct impact on cancer formation. Findings of the VITamins and Lifestyle study published in the British Journal of Cancer, looked at more than 66,000 patients in a health database from Washington State. Of those studied, 151 people developed pancreatic cancer.
Researchers found that those who met the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for magnesium had a lower risk of pancreatic cancer compared to those who did not meet the RDA for this mineral. More specifically, there was a 76 percent increase in the incidence of pancreatic cancer in those who took in less than the RDA for magnesiumcompared to those who met or exceeded the base level recommended.
For every 100 mg a day decrease in magnesium intake, it resulted in 24 percent increase in the incidence of pancreatic cancer. However, when the researchers compared those who took a magnesium supplement with those who didn’t, the benefits disappeared in non-supplement takers.
“The strong effect was only observed in those taking both dietary and supplemental magnesium indicating supplementation was beneficial,” says the study author Daniel Dibaba, a PhD candidate, in the School of Public Health at Indiana University in Bloomington. This suggests that supplementation may be advised for individuals at risk to boost their magnesium levels to at least meet the RDA recommendations for this mineral.
Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most deadly cancer in the U.S. for both men and women. “For those at a higher risk of pancreatic cancer, adding a magnesium supplement to their diet may prove beneficial in preventing this disease,” Dibaba said.