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March/April 2005 Annals of Family Medicine tip sheet

Consumption of High Levels of Dietary Iron Linked to Increased Cancer Risk for Patients Predisposed to Iron Overload
High-protein diets that include a lot of iron-containing foods, such as the increasingly popular Atkins diet, may not be the best choice for everybody, according to a new study out of the Medical University of South Carolina. Analyzing population-based data from U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, Mainous and colleagues found that people with elevated levels of serum transferrin saturation an indicator of iron overload who consume high levels of dietary iron, have an increased risk of cancer and cancer mortality.

Specifically, they found that people with elevated levels of transferrin saturation who ingest more than 18 mg of iron per day have a 2.24 times greater relative risk of cancer than those who have normal transferrin saturation levels and report low dietary iron intake. Having high transferrin saturation with a normal diet did not carry increased risk. The authors point out that a substantial proportion of adults in the United States approximately 7 percent of the adult U.S. population has transferrin saturation levels greater than 41 percent, and are at increased risk.

The authors suggest that simple dietary restrictions may help to reduce the cancer risk associated with high transferrin saturation. They add that these findings call into question the strategy of the addition of iron to food by manufacturers.
Transferrin Saturation, Dietary Iron Intake, and Risk of Cancer
By Arch G. Mainous III, et al

Family-level Influences Have a Significant Impact on Individuals' Health
With health care systems increasingly focusing on the individual, new research out of the University of Texas Health Science Center shows the need for a concurrent focus on the family's role in health. Analyzing data from more than 35,000 people who participated in the national
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Contact: Angela Lower
alower@aafp.org
913-906-6253
American Academy of Family Physicians
29-Mar-2005


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