A study published in the journal PLOS Medicine found that high iron levels can lead to an increased risk of developing bacterial skin infections. This global study is the first to use large-scale population data to investigate this association.
“We used a statistical method, called Mendelian randomization, that employs genetic data to better estimate the causal effect of iron status on 900 diseases and conditions,” Beben Benyamin, the study's co-lead author, said. “Through this, we found a link between excess iron and a reduced risk of high cholesterol,” Benyamin added.
While there is plenty of research available that highlights the positive effects of iron consumption in the body, there aren't many studies that look into the negative effects of excess iron. In this global study, researchers from the University of South Australia, in collaboration with Imperial College London and the University of Ioannina in Greece, explored the broad clinical effects of varying iron status.
To do so, the researchers used the genetic and clinical data from around 424,439 people, aged 40 to 69, who are enrolled in the U.K. Biobank. The researchers claim that their study was able to rapidly determine the effects of raised iron status on hundreds of clinical outcomes using data that has been already captured. From their analysis, they were able to document the positive effects of iron — namely its ability to protect the body against anemia and reduce the risk of high cholesterol.
Anemia refers to a condition wherein there are not enough healthy blood cells to circulate the oxygen throughout the body. According to the World Health Organization, anemia affects about 1.62 billion people worldwide, which is equivalent to 24.8 percent of the population.
However, the researchers also revealed that excessively high iron levels can also increase your risk of developing bacterial skin infections like cellulitis. (Related: Iron supplements cause more harm than good.)
Although there are previous trials that manipulated iron status in people with anemia, none of them so far have focused on managing skin infections or regulating cholesterol using iron levels. The researchers believe that they need significantly more trial data before even attempting iron manipulation.
“In this study, we have provided population-based evidence that iron is associated with certain diseases. The next step is to investigate whether direct manipulation of iron levels improve health outcomes through clinical trials,” said Benyamin.
The common trend nowadays is to use antibiotics to handle bacterial infections. However, there is a growing concern that these bacteria can develop resistance to the antibiotic medicine recommended by most health experts. Thankfully, there are natural remedies available that have been used for years to treat various skin bacterial infections
Nutrients.news has everything you need to know about iron and other minerals.