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Pancreatic cancer is a rare, aggressive cancer, expected to claim the lives of more than 48,000 people this year. The lack of reliable screening tests and the vague, non-specific symptoms associated with pancreatic cancer make diagnosing the disease difficult and often late. Even when diagnosed early, pancreatic cancer has a poor prognosis, with only about 8 percent of people who develop the disease surviving longer than five years. Findings from a 2015 study suggest that magnesium reduces the risk of pancreatic cancer.

Magnesium is an essential mineral and a cofactor for hundreds of enzymes. It is involved in many physiological processes, including energy production, nucleic acid and protein synthesis, ion transport, and cell signaling. Magnesium deficiency is linked with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes. Current magnesium intakes among people living in the United States are below the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of 400-420 milligrams per day for males and 310-320 milligrams per day for females.

The study involved more than 66,000 adults between the ages of 50 and 76 years of age. The authors drew on data from the VITamins and Lifestyle Study, a cohort investigation of the associations of supplement use with cancer risk over an eight-year period.

Compared to study participants who met the RDA for magnesium, those who obtained 75 to 99 percent of the RDA were 42 percent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, and those who obtained less than 75 percent of the RDA were 76 percent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer. For every 100-milligram-per-day decrease in magnesium intake, pancreatic cancer occurrence increased 24 percent. This association held true regardless of age, gender, body mass index, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug use.

These findings suggest that magnesium reduces the risk of pancreatic cancer. They also underscore the importance of obtaining sufficient magnesium from supplemental or dietary sources, such as green leafy vegetables, unrefined grains, legumes, beans, and nuts. To bolster your magnesium intake, try this magnesium-rich smoothie.

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