Health & Wellbeing

New evidence linking high iron levels with shorter lifespan

New evidence linking high iron...
Research suggests healthy individuals without a clinically diagnosed iron deficiency should not take iron supplements
Research suggests healthy individuals without a clinically diagnosed iron deficiency should not take iron supplements
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Research suggests healthy individuals without a clinically diagnosed iron deficiency should not take iron supplements
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Research suggests healthy individuals without a clinically diagnosed iron deficiency should not take iron supplements

Hot on the heels of a recently published genomic study correlating blood iron levels with healthy aging, more research is suggesting high systemic iron levels can be linked with reduced life expectancy. The current research does not prove a causal relationship between high iron levels and shorter lifespans, but it does support advice recommending iron supplementation is only necessary in people with a diagnosed iron deficiency.

The new study builds on a growing body of research linking irregular systemic iron levels with a number of different diseases. The majority of prior study on the topic has been epidemiological, highlighting correlation but not demonstrating causation. The new research deployed an increasingly popular statistical technique called Mendelian randomization, designed to better investigate possible causal connections in observational studies.

The researchers first investigated genetic data from 48,972 subjects to find correlations between gene variants and systemic iron levels. Three specific gene variants were implicated in abnormal systemic iron homeostasis.

The researchers then looked at a much larger genomic dataset, encompassing over one million subjects, to measure the association between these genetic markers and overall life expectancy. The results revealed a consistent association between reduced life expectancy and a genetic predisposition to higher iron levels.

"We have known for a long time that having too much or too little iron in your system can have serious impacts on your health, and that effectively modifying iron levels can help many people with underlying conditions,” says Dipender Gill from Imperial College London, and supervisor on the research. “Our findings build on previous work to clarify that picture further, showing that people who have genetic predisposition to slightly raised levels of iron in the body have reduced life expectancy on average.”

Iyas Daghlas, co-author on the new research from Harvard Medical School, stresses these findings should not be applied directly to clinical practice at this stage as plenty more work is needed to understand the relationship between iron levels and general health. Plus, there is an urgent need to investigate whether iron supplementation is dangerous if people are boosting their levels when they do not need to.

"These findings should not yet be extrapolated to clinical practice, but they further support the idea that people without an iron deficiency are unlikely to benefit from supplementation, and that it may actually do them harm,” says Daghlas. “We emphasize that these results should not be applied to patient populations with a compelling reason for iron supplementation, such as patients with symptomatic iron deficiency anemia, or in patients with heart failure."

The new research was published in the journal Clinical Nutrition.

Source: Imperial College London

6 comments
guzmanchinky
Well, I'm getting my yearly blood draw this week, I'll make sure they measure Iron...
JEP43
It is so interesting the number of articles written to inform the public yet there is so little or no information about the key, common sense, question: How much does this shorten one's life? Put another way, as it is often stated: Taking this drug or eating this food or not enough sleep or.... doubles your chance of some negative outcome. But nowhere does a typical article tell you that by going from a risk of 1 in 900,000 you now have a risk of 1 in 450,000, which in fact, does represent a doubling of risk of death. Let's get hard numerical data please. We can handle the numbers.
Kpar
Many years ago, in the weekly magazine Science News, I read about a study that showed that pre-menopausal women had half the heart attack rate of men the same age. Post-menopausal women had the same heart attack rate as men of the same age. Now, here's the kicker- men who were regular blood donors had the same rate as pre-menopausal women, and post-menopausal women who were regular blood donors did not increase their rates! I confirmed this with my primary care physician who told me that giving blood was the best thing you could do for your heart, after giving up smoking (assuming you were a smoker, which I am not). I subsequently had a DVT and PEs, which required me to take Warfarin (or equivalent), and I had to stop donating. After ten years, I was able to convince my hematologist to take me off the anti-coagulant, si now I am looking forward to donating again. I wonder why the blood banks do not advertise this, as they are always looking for more donors?
Signguy
This is only meant to confuse the public into complacency. Remember Coffee, grains, eggs?; good for you, bad for you, bad for you good for you, good for you bad for you. Who gave the info? Pharmaceuticals "informing" the masses. I CALL B.S. JUST ENJOY LIFE!
BlueOak
Donate blood as often as allowed, especially men, and men tend to have excess iron!

Dumps off some excess iron.
alexD
There goes my chance to keep enjoying kale, collard green, broccoli.....