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Magnesium Levels May Predict Risk of Type-2 Disease

[Medical Tribune: Obstetrician & Gynecologist Edition 04(07): 1997. � 1997 Jobson Healthcare Group]

BOSTON--Low serum magnesium may be a strong, independent predictor of type-2 diabetes in whites, according to new data presented here at the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association.

Based on the findings, Baltimore researchers said that a study focusing on magnesium supplementation to prevent diabetes is the next logical step.

Investigators led by Linda Kao, a doctoral student in epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, assessed baseline serum magnesium levels in 12,398 non-diabetic, middle-aged African-American and white subjects and followed them for six years. The study authors originally thought that because blacks have a higher prevalence of type-2 diabetes than whites, the reported lower serum magnesium levels in blacks may be partially responsible.

The results, however, were exactly the opposite, Kao said. No association was found between magnesium levels and the development of diabetes in African-Americans, but an inverse association was found in whites. By the end of the study, there were 807 new cases of type-2 diabetes, and in whites, the largest increase in risk for type-2 disease (94%) was associated with the lowest baseline level of serum magnesium.

Kao noted that in a further analysis, it was determined that relatively little of the risk increase in whites was associated with dietary magnesium, and that perhaps it had to do with differences in renal handling of the mineral. Study co-author Frederick Brancati, M.D., of the Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology and Clinical Research at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore, said that as magnesium is involved in carbohydrate and insulin metabolism, low magnesium levels may impair these processes, which could eventually lead to diabetes development. --J.K.