Magnesium Reduces the Risk of Colon Cancer

By Michael A. Smith, MD

Magnesium deficiency is an epidemic in this country. And when you consider that it’s involved in over 300 known biochemical reactions, this is costly – both clinically and economically.

Clinical manifestations of low magnesium include high blood pressure, heart arrhythmias and metabolic disorders.

Not only are they often deadly, but these conditions also cost a lot of money to treat.

Understanding the potential link between bowel health and magnesium, researchers from Imperial College London and Wageningen University studied the effects of increased magnesium intake on colon cancer risk.

They discovered that the more magnesium you eat, the less chance you have of developing colon cancer.

Colon Cancer Risk Drops by 12%

Eating more leafy green vegetables, whole grains and legumes may help to reduce your risk of colon cancer by 12%. Why? Because all of them are rich sources of magnesium.1

As a matter of fact, the researchers theorize that the reduced risk of colon cancer seen with plant-based diets may in fact be due to higher magnesium intake.

The researchers analyzed data on benign tumors (adenomas) and colorectal cancers. They looked at over 1,400 case controls and nine studies in their review.

The results indicated that for every 100 mg increase in magnesium intake, there was a 13% drop in adenomas and a 12% drop in the risk of colorectal cancer.

The lead investigator said, “Consumption of magnesium-rich foods may be a new avenue to explore further in the search for cancer-prevention strategies.” However, the results were limited mostly to overweight people.

So how does magnesium help reduce colon cancer risk at least in overweight people?

Preventing Colon Cancer by Improving Insulin Function

Overweight people often suffer from insulin resistance. This is when your cells and tissues become desensitized to insulin allowing blood sugar to rise.

Experts theorize that the rise in blood sugar can fuel rapidly dividing cancer cells. This may be one reason why diabetes, for instance, is a well-known risk factor for many different types of cancer.2

Another reason might be the connection between weight gain and immune cell senescence — the natural loss of immune function normally brought on by aging.3

This isn’t good, since one of the immune cells affected are the Natural-killer cells. These normally “kill” foreign invaders, like bacteria, viruses and even cancer cells.

And this is where magnesium comes into play. Clinical studies have concluded that increasing magnesium intake can significantly improve insulin function.4

The result is improved blood sugar and weight management and a reversal of immune dysfunction brought on by excessive weight and premature immune senescence.

At least this is the theory — no one knows for sure how magnesium reduces colon cancer risk. We’re simply trying to put it all together.

Supporting the Diet / Colon Cancer Connection

The current review supports what oncologists have long believed: Colon cancer is intricately linked to what we eat. The typical American diet, rich in processed foods, nitrates and smoked meats is well-established to increase the risk of the disease.

So it makes sense that eating the opposite diet — less processed foods and more vegetables — might prevent the disease. And it seems that this new dietary approach works because of one mineral … magnesium.

So, are you going to focus more on getting additional magnesium into your diet after reading this? Perhaps you should.


  1. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Sep;96(3):622-31. Epub 2012 Aug 1.
  2. J Palliat Med. 2012 Aug 23. [Epub ahead of print]
  3. Aging (Albany NY). 2012 Aug 29. [Epub ahead of print]
  4. Clin Calcium. 2012 Aug;22(8):1235-42.


conceptw said...

nice magnesium image :)

Life Extension said...

Lisa J Fletcher- You're very welcome! Thanks for stopping by!

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