Last week, I reminded you to never take a supplement containing iron unless you’ve been diagnosed with iron-deficiency anemia by a qualified physician. Research dating back decades links excess iron in the blood to cancer, heart disease and infections. And now, new research links excess iron with an increased risk of developing Type II diabetes.
I performed original research on iron with Dr. Richard Stevens (now at the University of Connecticut) and Nobel laureate Baruch S. Blumberg. We found evidence strongly linking levels of iron in the body to higher risks of all types of cancer in both men and women.
While I was working at the National Cancer Institute (as a former graduate student of Dr. Blumberg), Stevens and Blumberg asked me to help them investigate their hypothesis about iron and cancer using a data gathered from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The NCI refused to help fund the analysis. Plus, they wouldn’t even grant access to the data, which was paid for with public tax dollars.
After I left NCI (for reasons just like this), we petitioned the U.S. Department of Energy for funds and access to this public government data. The Energy Department granted our request and our analyses found a strong connection between iron and cancer, as expected. Eventually, we published our findings in the New England Journal of Medicine and the International Journal of Epidemiology.
Careerist political science bureaucrats at the CDC immediately attacked us publicly. They claimed it was irresponsible to publish our scientific data because “everybody knows that people need more iron.”
These ninnies didn’t care about the science. Or the citizens. They cared about protecting their national public health program and their publicly subsidized careers to push iron supplements.
If you understand some of the basic concepts behind modern molecular medicine, then you have to realize that excess iron is not a good thing — as Dr. Blumberg did. Too much iron in the body — not bound to hemoglobin in the red blood cells, where it belongs — leads to the formation of molecular ions, or “free radicals,” which cause oxidation and DNA damage, as well as other damage to cells.
It’s pretty basic. Oxidation = cellular damage and DNA damage = cancer. And it’s why people take antioxidants!
You might as well eat rust
Here’s another way to think about iron…
When iron is bound to carbon in steel it works like a metal. When it’s exposed to oxygen it becomes oxidized and turns to rust. And when iron is not bound to another molecule (like carbon), it turns to rust. So having too much iron in your system is like creating rust in your body.
In the body, the extra iron causes ionization. It becomes a highly chemically reactive molecular ion species that can attack anything around it: cells, DNA, and tissues like heart, liver, kidney, and pancreas.
In fact, the Department of Energy finally funded our cancer research because it wanted to more data on the health effects of ionizing radiation — which also comes from nuclear energy sources.
Ionizing radiation causes cancers from nuclear fallout. It’s the same ionizing radiation used for radiation therapy for cancer. Ironically (and ionically), radiation therapy actually increases the risk of getting a second, untreatable cancer as I reported in this month’s issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter. (This is important information you don’t want to miss, so if you’re not already a subscriber, now is the perfect time to get started.)
Plus, as I mentioned earlier, new research links excess iron with Type II diabetes.
The new study followed more than 25,000 participants. The researchers measured the participants’ ferratin and transferrin levels, two indicators of iron levels in the body.
The body makes ferritin to bind free iron in and transferrin to transport iron to where it is needed. So higher levels of these iron-binding proteins tell us that a person’s iron isn’t all bound to hemoglobin in the blood where it belongs. Instead, excess iron is floating around the body — which is the real problem.
After their analysis, the researchers found that higher ferritin and transferrin levels showed a dose-response relationship with a higher risk of developing Type II diabetes.
In other words, the higher the excess iron indicators, the higher the Type II diabetes risk.
More specifically, ferritin is measured in micrograms per Liter (mcg/L). And for every 100 mcg/L increase in ferritin, there was up to a 12 percent increase in diabetes risk. Transferrin is measured in tenths of a gram per Liter. And for every 0.5 gram/L increase in transferrin, there was up to a 33 percent increase in diabetes risk.
Of course, the researchers concluded that “it’s complicated.” And they want more research.
Indeed, iron metabolism is complicated. But not in the way they imply.
It’s complicated because iron is a heavy metal — like cadmium, mercury and lead. And it’s ONLY safe when located inside hemoglobin inside red blood cells. When running loose around the body and not bound in the blood, it’s toxic.
Your body needs about four grams of iron — total — which you can and should always get from your diet. The only way to rid your body of excess iron is to lose blood.
Don’t take iron supplements, or a supplement containing iron, unless specifically diagnosed by your doctor with an iron deficiency. And donate blood. It’s good for the community and good for your health.
“Association of Multiple Biomarkers of Iron Metabolism and Type 2 Diabetes: The EPIC-InterAct Study,” Diabetes Care 2016 Apr;39(4):572-81