Men’s iron is too high — common lab test is wrong

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High iron is dangerous and common — labs are doing the wrong test

Excess iron is a major health risk.

Iron is strongly tied to obesity and Alzheimer’s. Lowering iron improves both conditions.

Excess iron can harm the liver and increase the risk of colon cancer — it also suppresses immunity.

You might think that many people are suffering from too little iron — it seems that iron deficiency is increasingly diagnosed.

Often it is people with low metabolism — who are obese and inflamed — who are diagnosed with iron deficiency.

Yet one of the labs commonly used to diagnose iron deficiency (namely ferritin) is woefully inaccurate. 

In fact, it simply indicates inflammation.

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The human research was carried out at Khyber Teaching Hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan. The results were published in the Journal of Obesity.

Ferritin is a protein which has the ability to store iron. 

Blood tests looking at ferritin levels are often used to diagnose iron deficiency.

“In clinical practice, serum ferritin is used as a screening tool to detect iron deficiency.”

The use of ferritin to diagnose iron deficiency has been criticized for some time,  particularly in people who are metabolically unwell.

“The reliability of iron deficiency in obesity has been questioned.”

You see, ferritin has also been tied to inflammation. 

And some have argued that changes in ferritin levels simply indicate changes in inflammation, rather than iron status.

“We set out to investigate the role of ferritin in overweight or obese people, either as a marker of inflammation or iron deficiency.”

Specifically, the researchers want to know whether ferritin labs gave different results based on body weight. 

Are ferritin levels predictive of iron status on heavier people?

The researchers recruited 150 people for the study.

The participants were split into three different groups of equal size.

The groups were determined based on body mass index (BMI).

One group had a lower BMI of 18 to 25.

Group 2 were overweight with a BMI between 25 and 30.

Group 3 were obese with a BMI greater than 30.

The researchers tested ferritin levels in all of the participants.

They also carried out other tests looking at iron status to see if these tests were in agreement with conventional interpretations of ferritin.

Finally, the researchers took some common blood tests looking at inflammation.

“Serum iron, total iron binding capacity, transferrin saturation, ferritin, C-reactive protein, and hemoglobin were measured for each participant and analyzed.”

Ferritin levels were stratified according to BMI. 

Overweight people had higher ferritin levels. 

Obese people and the highest ferritin.

“Ferritin was the highest in group C (obese) and the lowest in group A (lower BMI).”

Conventionally this would be interpreted to mean that obese people have poor iron status.

Yet the other iron labs gave opposite results.

Transferrin is another protein strongly tied to hiring regulation. 

Transferrin blood tests are also used to diagnose iron deficiency.

The results of the transferrin blood tests indicated that a higher BMI was linked to higher iron levels. 

Meaning obese people have the highest levels of iron.

“Contrarily to ferritin, transferrin was the lowest in group C, and the highest in group A.”

These two iron labs gave completely contradictory results.

If obese people are suffering from too much iron and the lab (ferritin) indicates low iron the results could be disastrous.

The other lab results supported transferrin — meaning they supported the interpretation that obese people have too much iron.

“Ferritin had a strong positive correlation with BMI and a strong negative correlation with iron and transferrin saturation.”

Ferritin levels were also strongly tied to C-reactive protein.

C-reactive protein is one of the primary tests for general inflammation in the body.

“Ferritin had a strong positive correlation with C reactive protein.”

Iron is highly reactive — it has the ability to cause inflammation all throughout the body.

The researchers came to the conclusion that this common iron lab test does not diagnose iron deficiency — rather it is tied to inflammation, high iron and obesity.

“Ferritin is a marker of inflammation rather than iron status in overweight and obese people.”

Always get a complete iron profile and be skeptical about iron supplementation — it is massively over-recommended.

These statements are even more true in people with metabolic problems like obesity.

“Complete iron profile including transferrin, rather than serum ferritin alone, can truly predict iron deficiency in such people.”

You should always consult a healthcare practitioner about treating and diagnosing health-related problems.

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Matt Cook is editor-in-chief of Daily Medical Discoveries. Matt has been a full time health researcher for 26 years. ABC News interviewed Matt on sexual health issues not long ago. Matt is widely quoted on over 1,000,000 websites. He has over 300,000 daily newsletter readers. Daily Medical Discoveries finds hidden, buried or ignored medical studies through the lens of 100 years of proven science. Matt heads up the editorial team of scientists and health researchers. Each discovery is based upon primary studies from peer reviewed science sources following the Daily Medical Discoveries 7 Step Process to ensure accuracy.


Ferritin Is a Marker of Inflammation rather than Iron Deficiency in Overweight and Obese People.