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March/April 2004 Annals of Family Medicine tip sheet

Patients Predisposed to Iron Overload Face an Increased Risk of Death from All Causes
Consumption of Red Meat and Dietary Iron Linked to Increased Mortality Risk for These Patients
Analyzing population-based data from U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, Mainous and colleagues found that elevated levels of serum transferrin saturation, an indicator of a predisposition for iron overload, were associated with a significantly higher risk of death from all causes. The authors point out that a substantial proportion of adults in the United States approximately 2 percent of the adult U.S. population has transferrin saturation levels greater than 55 percent, and are at increased risk for all-cause mortality.

Research findings from an accompanying study indicate that high-protein diets, such as the increasingly popular Atkins diet, may not be the best choice for everybody. Mainous and colleagues found that among people with elevated levels of serum transferrin saturation, eating large amounts of red meat and other iron-containing foods was associated with increased death rates. Specifically, they found that people with elevated transferrin saturation who reported high dietary iron intake had a mortality risk 2.9 times greater than those who had normal transferrin saturation levels and reported low dietary iron intake. People who had a high transferrin saturation and reported consuming red meat seven or more times per week had a mortalilty risk 2.26 times greater than those who had normal transferrin saturation and reported low red meat consumption. The authors suggest that simple dietary restrictions may help to reduce the mortality risk associated with high transferrin saturation.

Elevated Serum Transferrin Saturation and Mortality
By Arch G. Mainous III, Ph.D., et al

The Mortality Risk of Elevated Serum Transferrin Saturation and Consumption of Dietary Iron
By Arch G. Maino
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Contact: Angela Lower
alower@aafp.org
913-906-6253
American Academy of Family Physicians
30-Mar-2004


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