Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 26, Issue 12, pp 1761–1769 | Cite as

Association between magnesium intake and risk of colorectal cancer among postmenopausal women

  • Anna M. Gorczyca
  • Ka He
  • Pencheng Xun
  • Karen L. Margolis
  • Janet P. Wallace
  • Dorothy Lane
  • Cynthia Thomson
  • Gloria Y. F. Ho
  • James M. Shikany
  • Juhua Luo
Original Paper



Data relating to magnesium intake and colorectal cancer (CRC) risk in postmenopausal women are incomplete. We investigated the association between total magnesium intake and the risk of CRC in an ethnically diverse cohort of postmenopausal women enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative.


Self-reported dietary and supplemental magnesium were combined to form total magnesium intake. Invasive incident CRC was the primary outcome. Cox proportional hazard models were used to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95 % confidence intervals (CI).


During an average follow-up of 13 years (1,832,319 person-years), of the 140,601 women included for analysis, 2,381 women were diagnosed with CRC (1,982 colon cancer and 438 rectal cancer). After adjustment for potential confounding variables, an inverse association was observed in the highest quintile of total magnesium intake compared to the lowest quintile for risk of CRC (HR 0.79, 95 % CI 0.67, 0.94, p trend < 0.0001) and colon cancer (HR 0.80, 95 % CI 0.66, 0.97, p trend < 0.0001). A borderline significant inverse association was detected in the highest versus the lowest quintile of total magnesium intake for rectal cancer (HR 0.76, 95 % CI 0.51, 1.13, p trend < 0.001).


Findings from this study support the hypothesis that magnesium intake around 400 mg/day from both dietary and supplemental sources is associated with a lower incidence of CRC in postmenopausal women.


Magnesium Colorectal cancer Colon cancer Rectal cancer Postmenopausal 



Body mass index


Confidence interval


Colorectal cancer


Clinical trial


Food frequency questionnaire


Hazard ratio


Observational study



The WHI program is funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, US Department of Health and Human Services through contracts, HHSN268201100046C, HHSN268201100001C, HHSN268201100002C, HHSN268201100003C, HHSN268201100004C. Program Office (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Bethesda, Maryland) Jacques Rossouw, Shari Ludlam, Dale Burwen, Joan McGowan, Leslie Ford, Nancy Geller. Clinical Coordinating Center: (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA) Garnet Anderson, Ross Prentice, Andrea LaCroix, Charles Kooperberg, Barbara Cochrane, Julie Hunt, Marian Neuhouser, Lesley Tinker, Susan Heckbert, Alex Reiner. Regional Centers: (Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA) JoAnn E. Manson, Kathryn M. Rexrode, Brian Walsh, J. Michael Gaziano, Maria Bueche; (MedStar Health Research Institute/Howard University, Washington, DC) Barbara V. Howard, Lucile Adams-Campbell, Lawrence Lessin, Cheryl Iglesia, Brian Walitt, Amy Park; (The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH) Rebecca Jackson, Randall Harris, Electra Paskett, W. Jerry Mysiw, Michael Blumenfeld; (Stanford Prevention Research Center, Stanford, CA) Marcia L. Stefanick, Mark A. Hlatky, Manisha Desai, Jean Tang, Stacy T. Sims; (University of Arizona, Tucson/Phoenix, AZ) Cynthia A. Thomson, Tamsen Bassford, Cheryl Ritenbaugh, Zhao Chen, Marcia Ko; (University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY) Jean Wactawski-Wende, Maurizio Trevisan, Ellen Smit, Amy Millen, Michael LaMonte; (University of Florida, Gainesville/Jacksonville, FL) Marian Limacher, Michael Perri, Andrew Kaunitz, R. Stan Williams, Yvonne Brinson; (University of Iowa, Iowa City/Davenport, IA) Robert Wallace, James Torner, Susan Johnson, Linda Snetselaar, Jennifer Robinson; (University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA) Lewis Kuller, Jane Cauley, N. Carole Milas; (University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN) Karen C. Johnson, Suzanne Satterfield, Rongling Li, Stephanie Connelly, Fran Tylavsky; (Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC) Sally Shumaker, Stephen Rapp, Claudine Legault, Mark Espeland, Laura Coker, Michelle Naughton. Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study (Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC) Sally Shumaker, Stephen Rapp, Claudine Legault, Mark Espeland, Laura Coker, Michelle Naughton. Former Principal Investigators and Project Officers (Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY) Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller (Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX) Haleh Sangi-Haghpeykar, Aleksandar Rajkovic, Jennifer Hays, John Foreyt; (Brown University, Providence, RI) Charles B. Eaton, Annlouise R. Assaf; (Emory University, Atlanta, GA) Lawrence S. Phillips, Nelson Watts, Sally McNagny, Dallas Hall,; (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA) Shirley A.A. Beresford, Maureen Henderson; (George Washington University, Washington, DC) Lisa Martin, Judith Hsia, Valery Miller; (HarborUCLA Research and Education Institute, Torrance, CA) Rowan Chlebowski (Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, Portland, OR) Erin LeBlanc, Yvonne Michael, Evelyn Whitlock, Cheryl Ritenbaugh, Barbara Valanis; (Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, Oakland, CA) Bette Caan, Robert Hiatt; (National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD) Carolyn Clifford (deceased); (Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI) Jane Morley Kotchen (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Bethesda, Maryland) Linda Pottern; (Northwestern University, Chicago/Evanston, IL) Linda Van Horn, Philip Greenland; (Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL) Lynda Powell, William Elliott, Henry Black; (State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, NY) Dorothy Lane, Iris Granek; (University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY) Maurizio Trevisan; (University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL) Cora E. Lewis, Albert Oberman; (University of Arizona, Tucson/Phoenix, AZ) Tamsen Bassford, Cheryl Ritenbaugh, Tom Moon; (University of California at Davis, Sacramento, CA) John Robbins; (University of California at Irvine, CA) F. Allan Hubbell, Frank Meyskens, Jr.; (University of California at Los Angeles, CA) Lauren Nathan, Howard Judd (deceased); (University of California at San Diego, LaJolla/Chula Vista, CA) Robert D. Langer; (University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH) Michael Thomas, Margery Gass, James Liu; (University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI) J. David Curb (deceased); (University of Massachusetts/Fallon Clinic, Worcester, MA) Judith Ockene; (University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Newark, NJ) Norman Lasser; (University of Miami, Miami, FL) Mary Jo O’Sullivan, Marianna Baum; (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN) Karen L. Margolis, Richard Grimm; (University of Nevada, Reno, NV) Robert Brunner, Sandra Daugherty (deceased); (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC) Gerardo Heiss, Barbara Hulka, David Sheps; (University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN) Karen Johnson, William Applegate; (University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX) Robert Brzyski, Robert Schenken; (University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI) Gloria E. Sarto, Catherine Allen (deceased); (Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC) Mara Vitolins, Denise Bonds, Electra Paskett, Greg Burke; (Wayne State University School of Medicine/Karmanos Cancer Institute, Detroit, MI) Michael S. Simon, Susan Hendrix.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

None of the authors have a personal or financial conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna M. Gorczyca
    • 1
  • Ka He
    • 1
  • Pencheng Xun
    • 1
  • Karen L. Margolis
    • 2
  • Janet P. Wallace
    • 3
  • Dorothy Lane
    • 4
  • Cynthia Thomson
    • 5
  • Gloria Y. F. Ho
    • 6
  • James M. Shikany
    • 7
  • Juhua Luo
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health – BloomingtonIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  2. 2.HealthPartners Institute for Education and ResearchMinneapolisUSA
  3. 3.Department of Kinesiology, School of Public HealthIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  4. 4.State University of New York at Stony BrookStony BrookUSA
  5. 5.University of Arizona Cancer CenterTusconUSA
  6. 6.Albert Einstein College of MedicineBronxUSA
  7. 7.Division of Preventive Medicine, School of MedicineUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamBirminghamUSA

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