Magnesium helps fight cancer, scientists find

A Swiss study shows that magnesium increases the binding of defense cells to cancer cells, or cells infected by viruses, helping to fight cancer.

Researchers have proven that magnesium is essential in the functioning of the immune system, including the way our body fights cancer cells.

The study, published in the scientific journal Cell, was carried out by researchers from the University of Basel, University Hospital Basel, Switzerland, and the University of Cambridge, UK. In it, the group led by Professor Christoph Hess showed that T cells need a sufficient amount of magnesium to operate efficiently.

T cells, or T lymphocytes, are responsible for recognizing and destroying abnormal cells, such as those in a tumor or even those infected by a virus.

Previous studies have linked diets low in magnesium with the rapid evolution of cancerous tumors in mice.

How to get rid of bad cells

Hess’ group was able to prove that a cellular environment rich in magnesium works for T lymphocytes to more easily eliminate abnormal cells.

In this case, they realized that the mineral is important for the function of a specific protein on the surface of T lymphocytes, called LFA-1.

This is an anchoring site for defense cells, a point where they attach themselves to infected or abnormal cells. Magnesium works by enhancing this bond, the study found.


The discovery brings hope for even more effective treatments against cancer, especially immunotherapies.

Scientists have shown, in experimental models, that the immune response of T cells against cancer cells was strengthened by increasing the concentration of magnesium at the site of a tumor.

“To clinically verify this observation, we are now looking at ways to increase the concentration of magnesium in tumors in a targeted manner,” says Hess in a statement.

not ingesting magnesium

But it’s important to remember: the discovery does not involve ingesting magnesium through a diet or supplementation, for example.

This will still be the subject of a new study that will be conducted by researcher Jonas Lötscher, from the Department of Biomedicine and Immunobiology at the University of Basel.

“As a next step, we are planning prospective studies to test the clinical effect of magnesium as an immune system catalyst,” concluded Lötscher. At information is from R7