People enjoy eating chocolate, and many of those people try to minimize their intake thinking that this treat is unhealthy for them. A recent study pointed to eating dark chocolate as a way to decrease the likelihood of pancreatic cancer.
Scientists at Indiana University published their findings on this pancreatic cancer study in the British Journal of Cancer. The researchers specifically looked at magnesium intake and how it related to the incidence of pancreatic cancer, finding that people with the lowest intake of this mineral had the greatest chance of developing this disease.
The VITamins and Lifestyle study followed 66,806 men and women aged 50-76 years of age, from the year 2000 to 2008, and collected data on numerous variables. Of these participants, 151 developed pancreatic cancer. Controlling for all other factors including weight, gender, and age, magnesium intake was shown to be a determining factor. There was a 24% increase in pancreatic cancer with each increment of just 100mg of magnesium per day less than the recommended daily allowance.
The national RDA for magnesium is just 300-420mg based on age and gender, so ensuring this need is met could help clients to avoid this serious condition. Dark chocolate can be an excellent source of this mineral, and since it’s so highly palatable for the majority of people, it can be an easy addition. It may be necessary to educate clients on where to find the magnesium content for each serving size on their favorite chocolate bars. The most potent types will have higher cocoa percentages, and will have less sugar. Organic may be preferred, citing concerns about pesticide contamination as well as ethical harvesting of cocoa beans.
Other nutrient dense sources of magnesium include dark leafy greens, seeds and nuts, yogurt, and avocadoes, though dark chocolate is remarkably high, with 1 average sized square containing 95mg. Supplementing magnesium is also a good option, and clients may find the tablets or powders to be an easy way to include this nutrient into their evening drinks. Some clients may have to experiment to find their ideal level of supplementation, given the bowel flush that sometimes occurs.
Magnesium is an essential mineral for more than just pancreatic cancer, as it plays a role in synthesizing proteins, proper nerve function, cellular metabolism and enzyme function, blood pressure regulation, and the production of glutathione, our most potent endogenous antioxidant. Those with decreased magnesium consumption can suffer from frequent cramps especially in the legs, headaches, and irregular heartbeats, and these symptoms worsen over time to include altered appetite and nerve function, as well as coronary spasms.
Western diets are notoriously low in magnesium, since it isn’t often found in the preferred processed foods. Even those who choose fresher, whole foods diets are at risk, since soils are often depleted and the crops aren’t supplied with it. Meats contain roughly 25mg per 3oz portion, so using this food as a source of magnesium can be a good choice, though boiling in a liquid that isn’t consumed can result in nutrient loss.
Other factors that can reduce the risk of developing pancreatic cancer include maintaining a normal body mass index and avoiding smoking. Currently, 1 in 67 people will face a pancreatic cancer diagnosis, making 3% of the population at risk, though it accounts for 7% of cancer deaths, as found by the American Cancer Society. Reducing this risk via the addition of magnesium can be an easy way for clients to maintain better chances for health.