How is iron harmful to hummans?

Updated: 9/15/2023
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In the 1960s the World Health Organization found that when iron supplements were given to anemic people in Africa, there was a great increase in the Death Rate from Infectious Diseases, especially malaria. Around the same time, research began to show that the regulation of iron is a central function of the immune system, and that this seems to have evolved because iron is a basic requirement for the survival and growth of cells of all types, including bacteria, parasites, and cancer. The pioneer researcher in the role of iron in immunity believed that an excess of dietary iron contributed to the development of leukemia and lymphatic cancers. Just like lead, mercury, cadmium, nickel and other heavy metals, stored iron produces destructive free radicals. The harmful effects of iron-produced free radicals are practically indistinguishable from those caused by exposure to X-rays and gamma rays; both accelerate the accumulation of age-pigment and other signs of aging. Excess iron is a crucial element in the transformation of stress into tissue damage by free radicals.

For about 50 years, it has been known that blood transfusions damage immunity, and excess iron has been suspected to be one of the causes for this. People who regularly donate blood, on the other hand, have often been found to be healthier than non-donors, and healthier than they were before they began donating.

In one of Hans Selye's pioneering studies, he found that he could experimentally produce a form of scleroderma (hardening of the skin) in animals by administering large doses of iron, followed by a minor stress. He could prevent the development of the condition by giving the animals large doses of vitamin E, suggesting that the condition was produced by iron's oxidative actions.

Excess iron's role in infectious diseases is now well established, and many recent studies show that it is involved in degenerative brain diseases, such as Parkinson's, ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), Huntington's chorea, and Alzheimer's disease. Iron is now believed to have a role in skin aging, atherosclerosis, and cataracts of the lenses of the eyes, largely through its formation of the "age pigment."

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Q: How is iron harmful to hummans?
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