The first thing people think about when they hear “iron” is anemia, or iron deficiency, not realizing that ‘iron overload’ is actually a more common problem, and far more dangerous. It appears, many doctors don’t understand or appreciate the importance of checking for iron overload, which continues to accumulate, as the body recycles iron rather than eliminating it. With this insight in hand, comes the realization of how imperative it is to take matters into our own hands and request testing for this insidious yet demonstrably dangerous imbalance.
‘Iron overload, a potentially lethal, but under diagnosed and under treated medical condition’
Iron causes all this harm by catalyzing a reaction within the inner mitochondrial membrane. When iron reacts with hydrogen peroxide, hydroxyl free radicals are formed. These are among the most damaging free radicals known, causing severe mitochondrial dysfunction, which in turn is at the heart of most chronic degenerative diseases. When excessive iron is present, it begins a process to accelerate the formation of excessive hydroxyl free radicals from the peroxide, which in turn decimate your mitochondrial DNA, mitochondrial electron transport proteins and cellular membranes. This is how iron overload accelerates chronic disease, including cancer.
In Rebecca Lavie’s book, ‘IRON: A DOUBLE EDGED SWORD‘, she states that iron can re-activate a latent infection or tumor, with iron feeding cancer cells and causing them to metastasize. Lavie has found numerous studies which have shown that up to 88% of metastasized breast cancer patients have elevated ‘serum ferritin’, with cancerous breasts accumulating three times as much iron as normal breasts.
‘Cancer cells are known to grow rapidly in response to iron in their environment’
Iron is a mineral essential for life and is found in red blood cells yet iron is also known to fuel the growth of cancer cells, with science showing that these rogue cells thrive in a high iron environment. We know that most people have high iron levels due to excess dietary intake of iron dense foods such as red meat, yet how do we find the perfect balance between low iron which causes anemia and iron overload which feeds cancerous cells??
We have learnt that in cancer patients, iron stores are generally good yet the functional iron floating in the body is where the problem lies, possibly due to cancerous cells developing many more receptors to increase their uptake over normal healthy cells. Therefore, how do we combat this issue, knowing that the body does not automatically eliminate excessive quantities of iron that may be harmful??
Dr David Ogilvie, qualified in medicine from Cambridge, whose research shows that a well-balanced vegetarian diet provides enough iron to maintain homeostasis and has found vegetarians to have no greater prevalence of iron deficiency or anemia than non-vegetarians.