Consuming higher levels of magnesium—a mineral found in dark leafy greens, nuts, beans, yogurt, and avocado—appears to dramatically reduce one's chances of getting pancreatic cancer, which is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in the US. So report Indiana University Bloomington researchers this month in the British Journal of Cancer after sifting through data on more than 66,000 men and women, ages 50 to 76, from the VITamins and Lifestyle study. Looking at whether age, gender, BMI, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug use, and magnesium supplementation have a direct influence on pancreatic cancer rates, they found that for every 100mg-a-day decrease in magnesium intake (ostensibly as compared to those who met the RDA), there's a 24% increase in the incidence of pancreatic cancer.
"Pancreatic cancer is really unique and different from other cancers," study co-author Ka He says in a news release. "The five-year survival rate is really low." Magnesium, which Health Newsline reports is dubbed the "master mineral," is involved in more than 300 enzyme systems that regulate things as varied as nerve function and blood glucose control in our bodies, according to the National Institutes of Health. While researchers say more studies are needed, they advise that people should get their RDA of magnesium (roughly 420mg for men and 320mg for women), be it through diet or supplements, "to prevent any risk of pancreatic cancer." And it might be particularly wise for "those at a higher risk of pancreatic cancer" to begin taking a supplement, says co-author Daniel Dibaba. (Dizzy Gillespie is among these 15 celebs who fought pancreatic cancer.)