A diet high in magnesium may lower a woman’s risk of colon cancer, a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology has found.
While the authors note that a clinical trial is needed to confirm that the benefit is due to magnesium, the findings support the results of an earlier study of Swedish women.In the new study, Dr. Aaron R. Folsom and Dr. Ching-Ping Hong, of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, assessed magnesium intake in 35,196 Iowa women between the ages of 55 and 69 at baseline using food frequency questionnaires.
The women were followed for colorectal cancer from 1986 through 2002 during which time, 1,112 of the women developed colorectal cancer.
It was observed that, while an increase in dietary magnesium did not have any statistically significant benefit with respect to decreasing the risk of colorectal cancer, the researchers found it significantly decreased the risk of colon cancer.
Women in the highest quintile of magnesium intake were 23% less likely to develop colon cancer than women in the lowest quintile, the report said.
The Swedish study, however, found that high magnesium intake lowered the risks of both colon and rectal cancer. The new study authors do not know why the two studies differ in this respect.
Magnesium is believed to cut the risk of colon cancer by reducing oxidative stress, improving insulin sensitivity, or through mechanisms that reduce proliferation of cells in the colon. (Source: Reuters Health).