Calcium, Magnesium, and Breast Cancer
In 2011, it is estimated that 230,480 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed among women in the U.S. Known risk factors include obesity, alcohol consumption, age, family history, hormone use, reproductive and other factors.1 Researchers at the University of North Dakota are now suggesting that analyses may be ignoring a more important factor - magnesium.
Experimental, clinical and epidemiological studies suggest that calcium and its regulating parathyroid hormone (PTH) and vitamin D may affect breast cancer risk. The conclusions are troubling since some research has found no association between breast cancer risk and serum calcium levels2 whereas a positive association is found in post menopausal and/or obese women, and an inverse association is found in premenopausal women3.
The University of North Dakota researchers hypothesis is based on magnesium's role as an enzyme cofactor in energy formation (adenosine triphosphate or ATP). They suggest that a decrease in serum magnesium decreases magnesium (Mg) levels inside cells which leads to a decrease in Mg-ATP levels; a decrease in Mg-ATP increases cell proliferation by activating transient receptor potential melastatin 7 (TRPM7) related calcium influx leading to cell proliferation, thereby leading to cancer.4
Consider other widely accepted research and associations between magnesium and cancer:
- Dietary intake of magnesium in the U.S. is less (average 258 mg) than the recommended amount (320 mg), and as women age they consume even less magnesium.5
- Moderate alcohol intake increase breast cancer risk by approximately 7% per alcoholic drink per day.6 (Alcohol consumption depletes magnesium and it is one of the first supplements given to alcoholics when they detox.)
- Obesity is related to higher risk of postmenopausal breast cancer.7 (Researchers have also found that serum magnesium levels in obese women were lower than in non-obsese women.8)
As a result, the University of North Dakota researchers advocate additional prospective epidemiological studies and physiological experiments in breast tissues to assess and monitor calcium, magnesium, TRPM7 and Mg-ATP levels.
- American Cancer Society, "Cancer Facts and Figures 2011," <http://www.cancer.org/Research/CancerFactsFigures/CancerFactsFigures/cancer-facts-figures-2011> (accessed December 16, 2011).
- Sprague BL, Skinner HG, Trentham-Dietz A, Lee KE, Klein BE, Klein R., "Serum calcium and breast cancer risk in a prospective cohort study," Annals of Epidemiology January 2010: 82-5.
- Almquist M, Bondeson AG, Bondeson L, Malm J, Manjer J., "Serum levels of vitamin D, PTH and calcium and breast cancer risk-a prospective nested case-control study," International Journal of Cancer November 2010:2159-68.
- Sahmoun AE, Singh BB, "Does a Higher Ratio of Serum Calcium to Magnesium Increase the Risk for Postmenopausal Breast Cancer," Medical Hypotheses September 2010: 315-18.
- What We Eat in America, NHANES 2007-2008, Table 1, <http://www.ars.usda.gov/services/docs.htm?docid=18349> (accessed December 19, 2011).
- Allen NE, Beral V, Casabonne D, et al. "Moderate Alcohol Intake and Cancer Incidence in Women" Journal of the National Cancer Institute March 2009: 296-305.
- Brandt P, Spiegelmen D, et al. "Pooled Analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies on Height, Weight, and Breast Cancer Risk," American Journal of Epidemiology 2000: 514-527.
- Farhanghi MA, Mahboob S, Ostadrahimi A. "Obesity induced magnesium deficiency can be treated by vitamin D supplementation," The Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association April 2009:258-61.