Magnesium can slash colon cancer risk

There are plenty of reasons to make sure you're getting enough magnesium -- more than 300, actually, since that's how many responsibilities this mineral has in your body.

And now I've got one more: Magnesium can help slash the risk of a deadly form of cancer, especially if you're carrying around a few too many pounds.

Researchers combined data from six studies and found that every 100 mg increase in magnesium intake led to a 13 percent decrease in the risk of benign colorectal tumors and a 12 percent decrease in the risk of colorectal cancer.

They also looked at data from a case-controlled study comparing 768 patients with benign colorectal tumors to 709 healthy people, and found that every 100 mg increase in magnesium intake led to a 19 percent decrease in the risk of those tumors.

The catch: The benefits in both cases went only to overweight people over the age of 55.

It's not clear why magnesium seems to have this effect only on the overweight, but overweight people have higher levels of insulin -- a condition that ultimately leads to insulin resistance and diabetes.

Insulin can also help tumors to grow.

Magnesium, on the other hand, can help control insulin, and that may be why it can help prevent those cancers (and even ward off insulin resistance).

In any case, studies have shown that many people are deficient in magnesium, and often badly so. That's a shame, because magnesium can also help your heart, brain, muscle, immune system, and more.

One study I told you about recently found it can cut your risk of death by heart disease in half. And other studies have found that it can even help fight or prevent other forms of cancer.

Of course, don't rely on magnesium alone to cut your risk of colon cancer. Colonoscopy is still the best and most effective way to not only detect the warning signs of the disease, but also to treat it at the same time.