According to the American Cancer Society, the risk of a person having colorectal cancer in their lifetime is approximately 1 in 19, and it is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in men and women.
While cancer can strike even those who eat the healthiest diets and live the most exemplary lifestyles, we still want to do absolutely everything we can to reduce the risk of getting it as much as possible. A recent study suggests one way to do that is to consume a diet high in magnesium.
In this new study, researchers evaluated intake of magnesium in 40,830 Japanese men and 46,287 Japanese women between 45 and 74 years of age using a food-frequency questionnaire. The subjects were then followed for approximately 8 years to determine the incidence of colon or rectal cancer in this population.
The results showed that the male subjects with the highest magnesium intake had a 35 percent decreased risk of developing colorectal cancer compared to the subjects with the lowest magnesium intake. More specifically, the study showed that compared to the subjects with the lowest magnesium intake, the male subjects with the highest magnesium intake had a 52 percent decreased risk of colon cancer and a 3 percent reduction in rectal cancer risk. There was no association found between magnesium intake and colorectal cancer risk in women.
This comes on the heels of other research pointing in the same direction. A 2005 study assessed magnesium intake in over 35,000 Iowa women who were initially free of cancer, and followed them up for 17 years. This study, unlike the above study, did show a relationship between magnesium intake and reduced risk of colon cancer for women- the women with the highest magnesium intake had a 40% lower risk of developing colon cancer (strangely, in the Japanese study the association of higher magnesium and lower risk was only true for men).
A highly publicized Gallup poll taken some time ago and widely quoted showed that over 70% of Americans do not get nearly the optimal amount of magnesium, which is found in vegetables, fruits and nuts. Since magnesium is involved in over 300 biochemical processes, not to mention bone health, heart health, blood sugar control and general relaxation, it makes total sense to supplement with this nutrient, even if you’re getting a good diet. You can get it in a cal-mag formula or as a stand alone nutrient.