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IU researchers connect magnesium intake to prevention of pancreatic cancer


By Carley Lanich



From IDS reports

IU researchers found that magnesium intake may help in the prevention of pancreatic cancer, according to an IU press release.

The researchers’ study, titled “Magnesium intake and incidence of pancreatic cancer: The Vitamins and Lifestyle study,” was recently published in the British Journal of Cancer.

Previous studies have found inverse associations between magnesium and the risk of diabetes, which is a risk factor of pancreatic cancer. However, few studies have made direct association between magnesium and pancreatic cancer without finding inconclusive results, said Ph.D. student Daniel Dibaba, who led the study.

Dibaba and the study’s other co-authors analyzed data for more than 66,000 men and women, ages 50 to 76, and compared the association between magnesium and pancreatic cancer by focusing on the roles played by age, gender, body mass index, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs use and magnesium supplementation, according to the release.

Of those studied, 151 participants developed pancreatic cancer, according to the release. The researchers found that every 100-milligrams-per-day decrease in magnesium intake was associated with a 24-percent increase in the occurrence of pancreatic cancer.

According to the release, the study found magnesium’s effect on pancreatic cancer didn’t appear to be modified by the observed factors of age, gender, body mass index or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug use. However, the effects were limited to those taking magnesium supplements as a multivitamin or individual supplement.

“For those at a higher risk of pancreatic cancer, adding a magnesium supplement to their diet may prove beneficial in preventing this disease,” Dibaba said in the release. “While more study is needed, the general population should strive to get the daily recommendations of magnesium through diet, such as dark, leafy greens or nuts, to prevent any risk of pancreatic cancer.”

In the United States, pancreatic cancer is the fourth-leading cause of cancer-related death in both men and women. While the overall occurrence of pancreatic cancer has not seen significant changes since 2002, the mortality rate has increased from 2002 to 2011, according to the release.

“Pancreatic cancer is really unique and different from other cancers,” said Ka He, the chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and a co-author of the study, in the release. “The five-year survival rate is really low, so that makes prevention and identifying risk factors or predictors associated with pancreatic cancer very important.”

Other contributors to the study include IU Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics faculty member Pengcheng Xun, as well as Kuninobu Yokota of the Jikei University School of Medicine in Tokyo and Emily White of the University of Washington in Seattle.

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