Pay Attention to Your Iron Status!

Oxygen gives you and I energy and life. But it also damages and ages us.


Iron is one of many players in this process.


It does this by serving as an initiator in chemistry that produces free radicals. You’ve likely heard of these guys. Some are okay… actually they are essential. Too many result in havoc.


An article on iron as it relates to cancer outcomes was published in this month’s edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Investigators continue to find conflicting results when it comes to looking at biomarkers we use to assess iron status and both death rates and occurrence of cancer.


It may have to do with how folks of different cultural backgrounds handle their iron.


It may have to do with sex disparities in cancer.


It may have to do with the alignment of the sun, moon, and stars.


We don’t emOxidknow!


What we do know is we have of evidence suggesting that if blood loss occurs, risk of cancer goes down (1, 2, 3)!


It’s likely excessive amounts of iron contribute to disruption of insulin signaling (4). Hyperinsulinemia is implicated not only in diabetes and cardiovascular disease, but also neurodegenerative conditions, and many other maladies.


Yup, under the right conditions, oxygen does a lot of hurtin’.


So what’s this all mean for you?


There’s genetic testing you can have done to screen for your ability to regulate your uptake of iron. But it’s likely best to discuss monitoring iron status with your doc, regardless of whether or not you have any genetic alterations.’


Especially if you have signs of metabolic disease (hypertension, high triglycerides, blood sugar issues) that do not resolve with good nutrition, sleep hygiene, and appropriate activity!


And you want a full iron workup for a complete picture!



Serum Iron


Transferrin Saturation

Total Iron Binding Capacity


Please remember to work with your doc!


If you do have excess levels of iron, therapeutic phlebotomy is potentially indicated. But other strategies include moderating consumption of iron rich foods (especially meat), using non iron cookware, discontinuing use of iron containing supplements.


1 Zacharski, Leo R., et al. “Decreased cancer risk after iron reduction in patients with peripheral arterial disease: results from a randomized trial.” Journal of the National Cancer Institute 100.14 (2008): 996-1002


2 Edgren, Gustaf, et al. “Donation frequency, iron loss, and risk of cancer among blood donors.” Journal of the National Cancer Institute 100.8 (2008): 572-579


3 Yeh, J. J., et al. “Effect of blood transfusion on outcome after pancreaticoduodenectomy for exocrine tumour of the pancreas.” British journal of surgery 94.4 (2007): 466-472


4 Fernández-Real, José Manuel, Abel López-Bermejo, and Wifredo Ricart. “Iron stores, blood donation, and insulin sensitivity and secretion.” Clinical chemistry 51.7 (2005): 1201-1205

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