Iron supplements and health

Can iron be pro-inflammatory?

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14:30 - 15:00, sön. 23 apr.



Iron is an essential element in humans, participating in e.g. oxygen transport. The current trends connected to food culture are now leading towards a rising popularity of the plant-based diets (the percentage of vegans has increased by 350% during the last decade).

Since most of the bioavailable iron comes from the meat-based diet, vegans are at higher risk of iron deficiency that can lead to serious health disorders such as anemia. However, the public awareness of iron deficiency is also increasing, in fact, according to a Dietary Supplements Market Size Report for the years 2022-2030, more than 50% of adults in the USA is predicted to take dietary supplements daily. Unfortunately, iron-deficient patients may be more prone to develop health issues caused by iron supplementation, since iron exposure has been connected to higher incidence of colon cancer.

In Sweden, around 1/3 of all women in childbearing age have iron deficiency and may need iron supplementation. In these studies,  different forms of iron has been investigated, commercially available as iron supplements, using human intestinal cell lines. Its been found that some iron supplements increase levels of Amphiregulin (protein that is elevated in several types of cancer such as lung, breast, or colon cancer) in human cells. Come listen to the findings regarding iron-related pro-inflammatory response.


Agata Tarczykowska, PhD student, BIO at Chalmers, Chalmers


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