Vitamin D has emerged as a nutrient with astonishing value in disease prevention. Its low cost enables virtually everyone to supplement with enough potency to obtain broad-spectrum benefits.
Magnesium has similar attributes since it provides robust health effects, costs very little, and most Americans don’t get enough.
The best way to summarize vitamin D is that people who are deficient suffer more degenerative illness and premature death. The same holds true for magnesium.
Scientists recognize magnesium mostly as it relates to protection against cardiovascular disorders. Higher magnesium intake is associated with reduced risks of sudden cardiac death,1-3 stroke,4-6 type II diabetes,7-9 asthma,10 metabolic syndrome,11,12 heart disease,13,14 hypertension,15-19 and osteoporosis.20,21
What few publications discuss are findings showing cancer risk reductions in those who ingest higher amounts of magnesium.22-24
The challenge when assessing dietary magnesium intake is the inconsistency of the amount of magnesium contained in food.
Magnesium is not manufactured inside plants like disease-fighting polyphenols. This means the quantity of dietary magnesium is largely dictated by the amount of magnesium in the soil the food is grown in, or the mineral content of the water one drinks, both of which are highly variable.
In a landmark human study, there were marked reductions in pancreatic cancer risk in those who ingested higher amounts of magnesium primarily in dietary supplements. Other studies show colon cancer risk reductions in response to higher magnesium intake.
The totality of evidence supporting magnesium’s systemic benefits may soon transform this mineral into the next vitamin D as far as widespread public use is concerned.
This is great news for Americans, who face a phalanx of degenerative disorders that magnesium has been shown to protect against. It’s regrettable that it has taken so long for this realization to manifest.
Before the sun sets today, about 145 Americans will learn they have pancreatic cancer. It will likely be the worst day of their lives.
There are no “good” treatment options. The newly diagnosed cancer patient faces a litany of “bad” choices that are unlikely to be curative, but will inflict horrific side effects.
In recognition of lack of curative therapies, Life Extension Foundation® is funding clinical studies aimed at identifying better treatments for this malignancy that kills more than 40,000 Americans every year.25
Until a treatment breakthrough emerges, the best way to avoid becoming a casualty of pancreatic cancer is to not develop it in the first place.
Diabetics at Higher Risk for Pancreatic Cancer
A high percentage of pancreatic cancer patients also have type II diabetes.26-28 Research has shown that about 80% of pancreatic cancer patients had diabetes or glucose intolerance upon their cancer diagnosis.29,30
These findings support current research showing elevated cancer risks in people with higher blood glucose levels.31 In response to excess glucose, more insulin is secreted, which in turn fuels growth of malignant cells.32
An interesting finding we reported several years ago showed that type II diabetics that used the drug metformin had a 62% lower pancreatic cancer risk compared to those who had not taken the drug.33 One of metformin’s properties is to improve insulin sensitivity by activating a cell-energy enzyme, AMPK.34
The risk of contracting type II diabetes is lower in those with higher intakes of magnesium. A meta-analysis of human studies found that for every 100 mg increase in magnesium intake, risk of developing type II diabetes decreased by 15%.7
This understanding has led researchers to investigate whether people who consume more magnesium have lower pancreatic cancer incidence.
Higher Magnesium Intake Lowers Pancreatic Cancer Risk
A landmark study meticulously evaluated data from a large group of adults and found that a modest increase in assessed magnesium intake from a combination of diet and supplements resulted in profound reductions in pancreatic cancer risk.35
What struck us about this study’s findings is that it did not require a large amount of additional magnesium to produce a meaningful reduction in pancreatic cancer risk.
Researchers found that pancreatic cancer risk increased by 24% for every 100 mg decrease in magnesium intake below the recommended daily allowance (RDA). For example, an individual with a daily magnesium intake of 200 mg has a 24% increased risk of pancreatic cancer compared to a person who ingests 300 mg a day. Both of these intakes (200 mg and 300 mg a day) of magnesium are considered deficient even by government standards.
This study, published in late 2015, evaluated data from the VITamins And Lifestyle (VITAL) trial involving more than 66,000 men and women aged 50-76 years who were followed for an eight-year period. The subjects were divided into the following three groups based upon their magnesium intake:
Optimal Intake - Defined as ingesting greater or equal to 100% of the government RDA for magnesium (420 mg a day for males and 320 mg a day for females)
Sub-optimal Intake - Daily intake of 75% to 99% of the government RDA for magnesium
Deficient Intake - Less than 75% of the government RDA for magnesium (less than 315 mg a day for males and less than 240 mg a day for females)
Those who ingested 75%-99% of the government’s RDA for magnesium (sub-optimal intake) had a 42% greater risk of pancreatic cancer incidence compared with those ingesting greater than or equal to 100% of the magnesium RDA.
Those who ingested less than 75% of the government’s RDA for magnesium (deficient intake) had a striking 76% greater risk of pancreatic cancer incidence compared to those whose intake of magnesium was equal to or greater than the government’s (optimal intake) RDA.
When analyzing those who met or exceeded the government’s RDA for total magnesium intake, only those who took dietary supplements containing magnesium were able to consistently achieve the benefits.
This led the authors to state that to gain the benefit of magnesium at least at the recommended daily allowance (RDA) level, that “dietary magnesium intake alone may not be sufficient.”35
What’s striking about these findings is that the amount of added magnesium needed to meet the government’s RDA was exceedingly small. For most people, taking one magnesium capsule a day, or obtaining it in a scientifically formulated multinutrient formula is all that is needed to produce this robust preventive effect against pancreatic cancer.
This and other studies you’re about to learn about are why we think that magnesium supplementation is destined to become as prevalent as vitamin D is today.