Micke O1, Büntzel J2, Hunger R3, Mücke R4, Kisters K5

1 Franziskus Hospital, Klinik für Strahlentherapie und Radioonkologie, Bielefeld
2 Südharzkrankenhaus, Klinik für Hals-, Nasen- und Ohrenheilkunde, Nordhausen
3 Lürlibadstr. 80, Chur, Schweiz
4 Klinikum Lippe, Strahlentherapeutische Klinik, Lemgo
5 St. Anna Hospital, Medizinische Klinik I, Herne

Oncology had not paid much attention to the electrolyte magnesium so far. However, it plays an important role
in numerous physiological and pathophysiological processes, e.g. in anticancerogenesis, regulation DNA- and
RNA synthesis, mitosis, metastisation, nuclear repair mechanisms, and apoptosis. Therefore, magnesium
definitely earns far more medical interest.
In particular, in oncological therapies negatively influencing renal function, as cisplatinum, severe
hypomagnesaemias can occur, as shown by own studies, which often requiring treatment. A new aspect arose
from the introduction of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) antibodies cetuximab and panitumumab
in the oncological therapy, particularly in colorectal cancers. These lead by an interaction with the transient
receptor potential cation channel TRPM6 in the majority of patients to a clinical hypomagnesaemia and in up to
10% to 36% of cases to severe Grad III/IV hypomagnesaemias. Thereby, interestingly it appeared that that
there is a significant positive correlation between hypomagnesaemia clinical response to the antibody therapy
as well was to a significantly better survival. The underlying mechanism is nearly unknown, but maybe similar
factors, as we postulated in hypomagnesaemia and radiotherapy, for example the inhibition of DNA repair in
tumor cells.
Therefore, under special circumstances a low magnesium level may be more useful for tumor patients.
Another new and exciting aspect of magnesium is the treatment of hot flashes due to hormonal deprivation
therapy. Magnesium is known for its neuro- and vasoactive effects. Even though there are uncountable hints in
the internet on the treatment of hot flashes with magnesium – the digital search engine Google alone yields
more than 253,000 hits -, only two smaller scientific studies on this topic have been carried out so far. So far,
there are only some small clinical studies and few case reports on this topic.
In an own pilot study with 6 patients suffering from breast cancer and hot flashes under hormonal deprivation
were treated with 300 to 600 mg magnesium orally over 4 to 6 weeks. In 5/6 (83%) of patients a marked
improvement of symptoms was observed. Thereby the strength as well as the frequency of hot flashes was
alleviated significantly. As side effects, only in one case stronger diarrhoea was observed. The exact biological
mechanism of magnesium action is not yet elucidated. Recent studies from literature support our findings.
In the light auf the recent study data, magnesium remains a highly interesting ion for oncology, whose different
facets should be more and more enlightened.