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



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.

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Fig. 1



Body mass index


Confidence interval


Colorectal cancer


Clinical trial


Food frequency questionnaire


Hazard ratio


Observational study


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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. 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Correspondence to Anna M. Gorczyca.

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Gorczyca, A.M., He, K., Xun, P. et al. Association between magnesium intake and risk of colorectal cancer among postmenopausal women. Cancer Causes Control 26, 1761–1769 (2015).

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  • Magnesium
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Rectal cancer
  • Postmenopausal