Posted on Apr 20, 2018, 7 p.m.
Chalmers University of Technology has conducted a study showing two commonly available iron compounds increase the formation of known biomarkers for cancer, as published in the journal Oncotarget.
Ferric citrate is a compound often found within dietary supplements. Ferric EDTA is a food additive which is commonly used. Both of these compounds have been shown previously to contribute to the formation of tumors in model mice, this is the first time researchers have investigated potential effects on human cells.
Researchers investigated the effects of normal supplement doses of the compounds on two types of cultured human colon cancer cells, comparing them to effects of another iron compound ferrous sulphate which is commonly available.
It was noted that ferrous sulphate had no effect, but ferric EDTA and ferric citrate caused increased levels of the amphiregulin cancer biomarkers which are typically found in colon cancer, this effect was observed at low supplemental doses, concluding that both compounds might be carcinogenic as they increase amphiregulin.
Researchers warn that many suppliers, pharmacies, and stores don’t state which kind of iron compound is present for consumers other than saying iron mineral or iron, adding that authorities need to distinguish between this form of iron and that form and consider that different forms of iron can have different biological effects.
This study was carried out using cells cultured in a lab, researchers say they are confident that the potential mechanisms and effects observed call for caution and warrant further investigation.
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