A new study in the United States discovered that taking a magnesium supplement may be helpful in preventing the progression of pancreatic cancer.
Past studies have shown that magnesium reduces the risk for diabetes, a disease that is a risk factor of pancreatic cancer. However, little is known about how magnesium is directly associated with the latter. Other research that looked into the matter produced inconclusive results.
Now, researchers at Indiana University examined huge chunks of data from a project known as VITamins and Lifestyle study.
The team analyzed information involving more than 66,000 men and women who were aged 50 to 76 years old. They evaluated whether gender, age, body mass index, the use of non-steroidal and anti-inflammatory drugs, and magnesium intake played a role in the association between pancreatic cancer and magnesium.
Of the participants, 151 were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. As the intake of magnesium decreased by 100-milligrams per day, researchers found that the occurrence of pancreatic cancer increased by 24 percent.
The effects of magnesium on pancreatic cancer were also not altered by the differences in age, gender, BMI, or drug use, but were limited to those taking multivitamins or individual supplements that contained magnesium.
Daniel Dibaba, the study's lead author, said that while further study should be made, the public should strive to achieve the daily recommendations of magnesium through proper diet. Foods such as nuts and dark leafy greens can prevent any risk of pancreatic cancer, he said.
In the U.S., pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related mortality in both men and women. Data from the National Cancer Institute revealed that the occurrence of pancreatic cancer has not changed since 2002, but the death rate has risen every year from 2002 to 2011.
"Pancreatic cancer is really unique and different from other cancers," said Dr. Ka He, Dibaba's co-author and the chair of IU's Epidemiology and Biostatistics department the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington.
He added that for patients with pancreatic cancer, the five-year survival rate is really low. Prevention and identifying risk factors linked to the disease are truly vital, he added.
The IU study is featured in the British Journal of Cancer.
Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture| Flickr