Iron supplementation is common, recently its use even increased. Often a physician routinely prescribes it for tiredness and various unclear symptoms where an identifiable disease cannot be found. This is madness. Iron is very dangerous; even a little too much can do a lot of harm over time, even cause death.
We need iron, it is part of the haemoglobin molecule which is crucial for our blood's ability to transport oxygen to the cells. But the security margin between an optimal and a harmful amount is narrow as a hair. Many minerals are toxic when their quantity exceeds a certain limit, but the safety margin is considerable in most cases, because the human body has ways to dispose of surplus amounts. But it cannot rid itself of surplus iron! Therefore even slightly too much will soon become way too much if overconsumption happens on a regular basis and deposits are allowed to accumulate.
The only way to get rid of iron is by bleeding; bloodletting, phlebotomy. Menstruating females have an advantage here by having regular bloodletting naturally, and thus less risk of iron-related damage. But perhaps bloodletting, which was a common medical method in a not too distant past, and whose use has never ceased in non-mainstream health care, ought to be taken into common use again.
But what happens if we accumulate too much iron?
It is deposited in various places, such as the heart, where it gradually blocks normal functions. But the worst aspect is that it helps cancer to develop. It stimulates neoplastic cell growth; a primary tumour often grows where there are deposits of surplus iron. Cancer often begins there! Further, iron promotes cancer cell multiplication; once there, the tumour grows and spreads more effectively. Iron is also a strong catalyst of the formation of free radicals, thus stimulating oxidation.
Depleting the body of iron is a theoretically interesting approach to cancer treatment, but cannot be applied strictly. Some research is going on to bring forth medicines reducing or eliminating active iron or blocking the processes in which it is involved in the cancer problem - but we are still quite far from anything clinically useful.
What we can easily do, however, is to preventively avoid accumulation of iron in the body. Don't take iron supplements unless you know you have severe iron deficiency. Regular bloodletting might be effective too. With this mineral, slightly too little is better than slightly too much.
(This article is based on material previously published in Meriondho Leo and in my e-book “From Fungi to Cancer”, 2012)
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