In a 17-year study of 42,000 women ages 55 to 69, those who ate more than 351 mg of magnesium a day were 23% less likely to develop colon cancer than those who ate less than 245 mg daily. The women got most of their magnesium from food. The current recommended daily magnesium intake is 400 mg.

Theory: Magnesium may decrease risk factors, such as insulin resistance (in which the body is less able to respond to insulin) and cell proliferation.

Self-defense: Women who are concerned about colon cancer risk should eat a diet that is high in magnesium. Magnesium-rich foods include artichokes, avocados, bran cereal, cashews, dark chocolate, lentils, spinach and wheat germ. Previous research has shown that fiber, antioxidants and other nutrients in foods rich in magnesium also contribute to lower colon cancer risk.

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