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Magnesium Shown to Lower Heart Disease Risk

February 2004

Greater intake of magnesium appears to lower one’s risk of developing coronary heart disease, according to a study recently published in the American Journal of Cardiology.1

Researchers analyzed data for more than 7,000 male participants in the Honolulu Heart Program, which began in the mid-1960s. Nearly 1,500 of these men developed coronary heart disease during the 30-year study period.

The researchers discovered that the more magnesium the men consumed, the lower their risk of developing heart disease. The men who consumed the lowest amounts of magnesium were approximately twice as likely to develop coronary heart disease as those men who consumed the highest.

The researchers noted that these findings are consistent with those of other studies such as the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study2 and the National Health and Nutrition Exam Survey,3 in which higher blood levels of magnesium were associated with lower coronary heart disease risk.

“Magnesium deficiency is believed to have adverse cardiovascular consequences, including broad and complex effects on hypertension, diabetes, cardiac arrhythmias, atherosclerosis, and sudden cardiac death,” the researchers concluded.


1. Abbott RD, Ando F, Masaki KH, et al. Dietary magnesium intake and the future risk of coronary heart disease (the Honolulu Heart Program). Am J Cardiol. 2003 Sep 15;92(6):665-9.

2. Liao F, Folsom AR, Brancati FL. Is low mag- nesium concentration a risk factor for coronary heart disease? The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study. Am Heart J. 1998 Sep;136(3):480-90.

3. Gartside PS, Glueck CJ. The important role of modifiable dietary and behavioral characteristics in the causation and prevention of coronary heart dis- ease hospitalization and mortality: the Prospective NHANES I Follow-up Study. J Am Coll Nutr. 1995 Feb;14(1):71-9.

Night-Shift Work, Melatonin Deficiency Linked to Colorectal Cancer

Night-shift work may greatly increase your risk of developing colorectal cancer, according to data from the ongoing Nurses’ Health Study.

In their study of nearly 80,000 female nurses, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, found that those women who worked night shifts at least three times a month for 15 years or more were 35% more likely to develop colorectal cancer.*

The researchers believe that melatonin deficiency may be the culprit, as environmental light decreases the release of melatonin in the body, which usually peaks in the middle of the night.
“Melatonin has well-established anticarcinogenic properties, and a link between light exposure at night and cancer risk through the melatonin pathway could offer one plausible explanation for the increased risk we observed,” they wrote in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Several studies have already demonstrated a link between night-shift work and breast cancer. Moreover, previous research has supported the link between melatonin deficiency and the development of colorectal cancer.

“The finding that colorectal cancer patients had plasma levels of melatonin lower than healthy control subjects suggests a possible link between low melatonin levels and the enhanced development of colorectal cancer in humans,” stated the researchers.


* Schernhammer ES, Laden F, Speizer FE, et al. Night-shift work and risk of colorectal cancer in the nurses’ health study. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2003 Jun 4;95(11):825-8.

Fried-Food Ingredient Acrylamide Alters DNA

Acrylamide, a substance found in high concentrations in tobacco smoke, has been linked to cancer in laboratory animals. The fairly recent discovery of acrylamide in a variety of fried and starch-based food products led to a flurry of research to examine its possible ability to cause cancer. The World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations held an emergency meeting last year in Switzerland to discuss these possible health complications.

A new report in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute provides proof that acrylamide can lead to cancer-causing DNA changes in mammalian cells.* Scientists at the Beckman Research Institute at the City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, CA, found that treatment of mouse embryonic fibroblast cells with acrylamide induced the formation of DNA adducts and increased the frequency of mutations at specific locations along the gene, both of which may be instrumental in tumor formation.

In a statement to Life Extension, researcher Dr. Ahmad Besaratinia wrote: “The overall observations support the theory of the involvement of acrylamide in DNA adduct formation and induction of mutations, both relevant for cancer. Although the exact mechanism of action for acrylamide still remains to be fully determined, the current data are in favor of a DNA-damaging property of acrylamide partially leading to mutations. The observations made in the present study warrant further investigations into the cancer-causing effects of acrylamide in humans.

Editor’s Note: Chlorophyllin and indole-3-carbinol (I3C) are the best supplements to protect against damage from the formation of DNA adducts. If you eat baked or fried carbohydrates, it makes sense to ingest chlorophyllin and/or I3C at the same time.


* Besaratinia A, Pfeifer GP. Weak yet distinct mutagenicity of acrylamide in mammalian cells. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2003 Jun18;95(12):889-96.

FDA Warns Against Menopausal Hormone Therapy

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently launched a nationwide information campaign to “raise awareness about the recent findings on the risks and benefits of menopausal hormone therapy.”

It is estimated that more than 10 million American women use hormone replacement therapies such as estrogens or estrogens with progestins. While it was previously believed that these hormones could protect against many illnesses, newer research is disproving this notion. In fact, recent studies have been halted when these hormones were found to be generally more harmful than beneficial.

The FDA acknowledges that menopausal hormone therapy may have some benefit in reducing hot flashes, treating vaginal dryness, and slowing bone loss, but urges that these benefits be weighed against “the recent findings of increased risk of heart disease, strokes, breast cancer, and other serious health concerns associated with the use of these therapies.”

The FDA has modified the approved indications for menopausal hormone therapies to clarify that these drugs should be used “only when the benefits clearly outweigh the risks.”

“Postmenopausal hormone ther apy is a major personal decision for women, and they should be armed with the latest key facts and useful tools to make the best decision for their needs,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Mark McClellan said at a news conference.

“It is very important that women realize that this beneficial therapy also carries significant risks,” said McClellan. “Our recommendation is that if you choose to use hormone therapy for hot flashes or vaginal dryness, or if you prefer it to other treatments to prevent thin bones, take the lowest dose for the least duration required to provide relief.”

Editor’s Note: The Life Extension Foundation first warned against the dangers of hormone replacement therapy years ago.