Also, no food should
be eaten for 8-12 hours before having the test performed; this will help to
ensure accurate test results. If you have
these tests performed, your doctor
should be able to help
you understand your test results and to give you specific advice for your
particular situation. These tests must be performed if unhealthy iron levels
are to be detected. Given that iron accumulation disorders are very common
in men, all men should have their iron levels tested.3
Indeed, everyone-men and women-should be screened for
"If excess iron is such an important health issue for men, then why hasn't
my doctor already told me about it and why hasn't my doctor already
performed these tests on me? When should I have these tests done?"
negative effects of excess iron have only been recognized within the past
few years. No doctor can stay informed of every important advance in
clinical information. Thousands of important articles are published every
day. And although many articles on excess iron have been published recently,
perhaps your doctor hasn't yet read the ones on iron overload. If you visit
your doctor to have your iron status tested, you might want to take this
article so that your doctor will have an opportunity to learn about the
adverse effects of excess iron.
Misinformation about iron has been widely publicized for several decades.
For years, we were so convinced that iron deficiency was the problem that we
never thought to consider that iron overload-too much iron-might cause even
more serious health problems. It is true that iron deficiency is a problem
for some people, especially some pregnant women 9
and young children.10 However,
adults generally do not need to eat a high-iron diet (i.e., lots of beef,
liver, pork) and do not need to take iron supplements unless they have been
advised to do so by a doctor for the specific treatment of iron
You might consider
having these tests done when you have your next annual physical examination.
Although excess iron is certainly an important health issue for men, you
probably don't need to rush to your doctor's office right away. But, based
on the present research which shows that excess iron may be hazardous to
your health, if you haven't already been tested for excess iron, you may
want to have your iron levels tested within the upcoming year.
testing and treatment for iron overload saves money and lives by preventing
serious disease, 12 and doctors
and public health organizations may eventually begin screening everyone for
excess iron.13 But until routine
screening becomes more widely implemented, you'll have to look out for
yourself and become your own health advocate if you want to have these tests
"How much iron is too much?"
Research by several experts on iron metabolism has suggested that iron
levels which correlate with a serum
ferrites value greater than 100 and a
transferrin saturation value greater than 35%
may be a predisposing factor for the development for cancer, heart attack,
and other diseases.2, 5, 6, 14, 15
Although not all persons with excess iron develop disease, and not all
persons with disease have excess iron, researchers are continually finding
an association between the amount of iron in the body and the risk for
disease. Since excess body iron, especially in men, can do little good and
yet can do great harm, all men who want to reduce their risk of cancer and
heart disease should consider reducing their levels of iron.