Magnesium May Help Fighting Cancer and Infections

Magnesium deficiency is a condition in which the amount of magnesium in the blood is lower than normal, the medical name is hypomagnesemia. 

Every organ in our body, especially the heart, muscles, and kidneys need this mineral. It also contributes to the makeup of teeth and bones. Magnesium is needed for many functions in the body. This includes the physical and chemical processes in the body that convert or use energy (metabolism). 

Common causes of low magnesium can include: alcohol use, burns that affect a large portion of the body, chronic diarrhea, polyuria (excessive urination), malabsorption syndromes like celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease, some medications, and malnutrition.

Some rich dietary sources of magnesium include almonds, cashews, peanuts, and spinach. Walnuts also contain a particularly high amount of magnesium, with 100 grams containing 63% of the recommended daily allowance.

The mineral plays a key role in muscle contraction, nerve transmission, blood pressure regulation, and immunity. 

New Study Results 

In a new study published in the journal Cell, researchers in Switzerland discovered that a type of immune cell, called cytotoxic or killer T cell can only eliminate cancerous or infected cells in the presence of magnesium. 

They found that magnesium activates a protein called LFA-1 on the surface of cytotoxic T cells, which they use to lock on to their target cells.

Dr. Chirstoph Hess, Ph.D., senior author of the study explained that in the inactive state, this docking site is in a bent conformation and can’t efficiently bind to infected or abnormal cells. But if magnesium is present in sufficient quantities in the vicinity of T cells, it binds to LFA-1 and ensures that it remains in an active position. 

The researchers also saw while analyzing previous studies of cancer immunotherapies, that low serum levels of magnesium were associated with more rapid disease progression and shorter survival.

The team also show that adding tiny parcels of fat filled with magnesium and coated with antibodies improves the efficacy of immunotherapy in a mice model, and are planning to test this with human subjects. 


James Kingsland (2022, Jan 24). Magnesium may prime the immune system to fight cancer and infections. Medical News Today. Retrieved from:

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