Iron study finds cancer link

Standing from left to right: Researchers Dr Anita Chua, Prof John Olynyk and A/Prof Debbie Trinder
Researchers Dr Anita Chua, Prof John Olynyk and A/Prof Debbie Trinder
September 13, 2016

A team of researchers from Fiona Stanley Hospital and the University of Western Australia has confirmed a link between women with higher iron levels and the risk of developing breast cancer.

Researchers analysed data from almost 1800 women aged between 25 to 79 years without prior history of cancer and who were part of the 1994/1995 Busselton Health Survey.

The women were followed up for a period of 15 years with long-term health outcomes and records obtained from the Western Australian Cancer and Death Registries to determine the incidence of cancer and death.

Professor John Olynyk, Head of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Fiona Stanley Hospital and senior author of the study, said the findings confirmed a link between iron levels and breast cancer incidence and death in women.

“This highlights the need for a more cautious and objective approach to managing iron levels in our population, particularly in women,” Professor Olynyk said.

“Women who consume an iron-rich diet have an elevated risk of breast cancer and this risk increases with iron supplementation.

“It is important for women to see their doctor before taking iron supplements.”

The research study was recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.