Sufficient magnesium in diet boosts post-cancer survival chances
Most people consume less magnesium than nutritionists believe is optimal. An epidemiological study that American researchers published in 2016 in the American Journal of Cancer Research shows that a diet that is low in magnesium reduces cancer patients' chances of survival.
The researchers followed a group of 1170 women aged 35-79 who had been diagnosed by doctors as having breast cancer. They followed the women for just over a year. When the study started they had an idea of the women's diet from the questionnaires they had completed.
The more magnesium the participants consumed through regular food, the lower their chance of dying [All cause mortality (1)]. When the researchers looked at magnesium intake through food and supplements [All cause mortality (2)], the relationship was not quite statistically significant.
The participants who consumed relatively large amounts of magnesium via regular food [Breast cancer mortality (1)] or regular food plus supplements [Breast cancer mortality (2)] died less often from breast cancer. Those relationships were not statistically significant, though.
Nutritionists say that adult men should consume about 300-350 mg magnesium daily, and adult women 250-350 mg. Only the study participants with the highest intake reached this standard.
"In the current study, we observed an independent inverse association between dietary and total magnesium intake and all-cause mortality in breast cancer patients," the researchers summarise. "Further large studies are needed to confirm our findings."
A little grumble
Important sources of magnesium are green vegetables, whole seeds, whole-grain products such as wholemeal bread, beans, peas and nuts. Refined food products contain very little magnesium. It may well be the case that the participants with high magnesium intakes generally ate more healthily.
The researchers filtered out the effects of the total energy intake and vitamin D intake, but not of other nutritional factors.
Am J Cancer Res 2016;6(1):105-13.
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Cancer Prevention & Survival