Dietary iron intake and public health risk
Principal Investigator: Dr Rudolph Schutte
Approved Research ID: 23183
Approval date: November 1st 2016
We aim to investigate the relationship between dietary iron intake on a broad range of health outcomes. General research questions include: 1. Does high iron intake relate to chronic disease outcomes such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, alterations in cardiovascular structure and function and the metabolic syndrome? 2. Do interactions exist between dietary iron intake and measures of lifestyle (e.g. smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity) and does it predict the above outcomes? 3. Are consumers of heme iron sources at higher disease risk than non-heme iron consumers? Iron is an essential trace element for the human body, although it can also be toxic due to oxidative stress generation. Even mild cases of iron overload increases the risk for liver disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and metabolic syndrome. In the Framingham Heart Study, only 3 percent had deficient iron levels, but 13 percent had levels considered too high suggesting too high rather than too low (as believed) iron intake in the general population. The proposed research aims to reduce scientific uncertainty and improve the evidence base to guide UK public health policy regarding dietary iron intake. We will examine the relationship between dietary iron intake and various measures of health, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, alterations in cardiovascular structure and function and the metabolic syndrome, whilst taking into account covariates and potential confounders. As an unhealthy lifestyle adversely affects the intestinal barrier increasing iron absorption, we will investigate whether there is predictive value of potential interactions between dietary iron intake and measures of lifestyle such as smoking, alcohol use and obesity. Lastly, we will determine whether high heme-iron consumers are at higher disease risk compared to low heme-iron consumers. The research will include the full cohort for which information on dietary iron is available, i.e., 211,063.