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Iron is the New Cholesterol
Old 12-12-2019, 02:28 PM   #1
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Iron is the New Cholesterol

Elevated iron is at the center of a web of disease stretching from cancer to diabetes to Parkinson's and Alzheimer's....

https://getpocket.com/explore/item/i...ew-cholesterol


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Old 12-12-2019, 03:41 PM   #2
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Interesting read. I'm a carrier for Hemochromatosis, and one of my sisters is being treated for it.
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Old 12-12-2019, 04:05 PM   #3
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Interesting. We hear so much about low iron levels, especially in women.

Beyond donating blood and avoiding Cheerios, the article really didn't say much about what we could do about it, or even how we'd know we have an issue.

Is iron something they usually check on a routine blood test? I recently had one, but didn't find anything that looked like it had iron or Fe in the name. But there are a lot of abbreviations on there.
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Old 12-12-2019, 04:19 PM   #4
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Yes, many routine annual blood panels test for iron.

Low iron levels are usually only an issue for premenopausal women.

Donating blood seems to be the most effective way to get rid of excess iron.
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Old 12-12-2019, 04:23 PM   #5
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A friend has Hemochromatosis and goes to the same hospital unit where I received chemo. But instead of giving him fluids, they regular bleed him. (I assume the Hemochromatosis disqualifies him from donating blood.)
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Old 12-12-2019, 04:32 PM   #6
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This could be bad news for Guinness Stout drinkers. It's reputed to be quite high in iron.
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Old 12-12-2019, 04:43 PM   #7
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(I assume the Hemochromatosis disqualifies him from donating blood.)
Many people have had undiagnosed hemochromatosis and given blood regularly, saving not only someone else's life, but also their own.

However, "The Red Cross does not currently accept blood donations from individuals who have hereditary hemochromatosis or from those who require treatment for iron overload by therapeutic phlebotomy." - from their website.

I know they don't ask if you have it. Most people who have it, don't know that they do. So.....
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Old 12-12-2019, 04:47 PM   #8
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Donating blood seems to be the most effective way to get rid of excess iron.
Hemochromatosis is predominantly a European disorder. It provides some immunity to bacterial infections like the Black Plague. It is my opinion that it is the existence of this disorder that lead to practice of bleeding and leaching in early western medicine.
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Old 12-12-2019, 05:22 PM   #9
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A great conspiracy theory would be that Hemochromatosis is a myth perpetuated by the vampire society to provide a source of unwitting donors.
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Old 12-12-2019, 05:23 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptTom View Post
Is iron something they usually check on a routine blood test? I recently had one, but didn't find anything that looked like it had iron or Fe in the name. But there are a lot of abbreviations on there.
For me where I live, it is not included in either the CBC or the Comprehensive Metabolic Panel, or the Lipid Panel. It is a separate test called "Iron". That doesn't mean it isn't different elsewhere.

You might look for words such as hematocrit or hemoglobin, which are both measures of the iron level in your blood.
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Old 12-12-2019, 06:26 PM   #11
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DH was diagnosed with hemachromatosis this year. Doesn't show in a standard blood test, but other indicators said something was up. PCP pushed him to a specialist for further testing, and they tested his ferritin levels to diagnose - he was way way high. Left untreated it can cause severe organ damage.

4 monitored blood removals and retesting, and now he's on the low side, which is good and means he can eat normally (vs. being very restricted on high iron foods while he got things resolved), and can now just do regular blood donations to maintain, every 6 months or so. (note, we haven't checked locally on where this is ok, his doc said there are no restrictions, but we're not there yet.)

The irony (pun intended) is, DH is one of those who will faint at the sight of blood and cannot do needles. Getting blood taken can, and has, resulted in him passing out. So he warns the nurses and tries to be proactive to psych himself out of reacting. But perhaps had he not had this issue, and donated annually, the issue would never have come up.

And I'm prohibited from donating blood too. If you lived in the UK for more than 6 months since 1980 you're not welcome...because mad cow I guess is still a worry.
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Old 12-12-2019, 07:21 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SecondCor521 View Post
For me where I live, it is not included in either the CBC or the Comprehensive Metabolic Panel, or the Lipid Panel. It is a separate test called "Iron". That doesn't mean it isn't different elsewhere.

You might look for words such as hematocrit or hemoglobin, which are both measures of the iron level in your blood.
Ferritin is another word to look for.
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Old 12-12-2019, 08:08 PM   #13
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Years ago, I was a regular donor at work when the Red Cross bloodmobile would be visiting. Somewhere along the line, I fell out of the habit.

I started again this past year and have donated 4 times in 11 months and plan to keep donating 4-5 times a year to keep my iron levels in check (and, hopefully, the diseases mentioned in the linked article at bay).

While snow-birding in FL, I donate at a local hospital-affiliated community health clinic, conveniently located 5 minutes away. The office for blood donation is open 8-5, M-F. I've always been the only donor there, no matter what time I've walked in. The phlebotomist would often exclaim with excitement that I was her 2nd donor that day, and, as she was planning on donating herself later the same day...that would bring the daily total to 3 units of blood...a banner day for her location! I kept wondering how the clinic could justify keeping a full-time phlebotomist in a large dedicated blood-drawing office, if there are so few donors?

The last time I was there, I was chatting with the phlebotomist as usual, and she mentioned that a lot of older men (this is Florida, after all) are taking prescription testosterone, as it makes them 'feel good'. And, their doctors make these guys get blood tests done on a regular basis, as the extra testosterone causes their blood to "hang on to iron" (quoting the phlebotomist). If their blood work shows elevated iron (hemoglobin) they either have to donate blood or, if they are unsuited to be blood donors for whatever reason, to have a unit of blood drawn and discarded to get their iron levels down to where their Doctor will give them another testosterone prescription. AHA! I finally figured it out....THIS is why the full-time blood donation office is there. The random donor (like me) who wanders in off the street, is not the target audience at this clinic although they are happy to take my blood donation.

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Old 12-13-2019, 07:05 AM   #14
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From the Red Cross website:

The Red Cross does not currently accept blood donations from individuals who have hereditary hemochromatosis or from those who require treatment for iron overload by therapeutic phlebotomy.

Why?

From a website called Sharecare:

"The American Red Cross, which controls about 45% of the nation's blood supply, does not currently accept donations from people with known hemochromatosis. Everyone agrees that the blood is safe and of high quality. There is no risk of passing on a genetic disease through blood transfusions. But the Red Cross has a long-standing policy that potential donors are not allowed to receive direct compensation for their donation (beyond the usual orange juice and cookie). Because people with hemochromatosis would otherwise have to pay for their therapeutic phlebotomies, they would in effect be getting something of value for being able to donate for free. Thus the Red Cross has ruled that such donations violate their policy."

What a stupid, dumbass reason. Those with hemochromatosis need therapeutic phlebotomy. Donating blood could save the life of the donor. But because of this policy, they throw away the opportunity for the perfect blood donor. They could reduce the shortage in blood products if they change this policy.
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Old 12-13-2019, 08:19 AM   #15
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From the Red Cross website:

The Red Cross does not currently accept blood donations from individuals who have hereditary hemochromatosis or from those who require treatment for iron overload by therapeutic phlebotomy.

Why?

From a website called Sharecare:

"The American Red Cross, which controls about 45% of the nation's blood supply, does not currently accept donations from people with known hemochromatosis. Everyone agrees that the blood is safe and of high quality. There is no risk of passing on a genetic disease through blood transfusions. But the Red Cross has a long-standing policy that potential donors are not allowed to receive direct compensation for their donation (beyond the usual orange juice and cookie). Because people with hemochromatosis would otherwise have to pay for their therapeutic phlebotomies, they would in effect be getting something of value for being able to donate for free. Thus the Red Cross has ruled that such donations violate their policy."

What a stupid, dumbass reason. Those with hemochromatosis need therapeutic phlebotomy. Donating blood could save the life of the donor. But because of this policy, they throw away the opportunity for the perfect blood donor. They could reduce the shortage in blood products if they change this policy.
No kidding. Turning up their nose at "safe and of high quality" blood in the RC's own words for such a convoluted reason.
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Old 12-13-2019, 08:43 AM   #16
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Interesting discussion! I managed to get low iron.

I am male, and have been a life long blood donor, 4 to 6 times per year of whole donations for 35+ years. I changed to platelets only recently, which can be done 26 times per year, and should not affect iron.

Even with platelet donation, you still have to pass the test. Over the last year, I've been near bottom qualifying for hemoglobin, and then recently dropped below and was deferred. Went to my doctor, confirmed the number (below 13), and he ordered a ferritin test. The number came back so low (below 10) for a male that my doctor was convinced it was a testing mistake!

Anyway, started a multi-vitamin (8 mg Fe) and it had no effect. I'm now trying actual iron therapy (45 mg supplement) for 2 months to see what happens. I find out next Monday when I try to donate again.

My doc doesn't believe anything is wrong, it is simply my blood donation. I have no signs of internal bleeding, etc. He also tested my B12 and it is fine.

Although I don't feel overly tired, I recently noticed my swimming times are improving, and I'm falling asleep faster. I'll be intrigued to see if my Hemoglobin is up. If it is, I'll stop iron treatment immediately.

I looked into this a bit on the web, and I think I had a bad habit of taking too many calcium based antacids. Ca will stop Fe absorption. Also stopped all NSAIDS. That along with my donations may be the reason.

Also, when low on ferritin, your body will grab it and first work on your "iron stores" which is the ferritin level. Once replenished, it will give it back to improve your red cells and hemoglobin.

We'll see. I sure won't continue this if my hemoglobin is back to normal.

If it is, I'll be a case study that donating whole blood is effective in lowering iron.
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Old 12-13-2019, 10:19 AM   #17
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They have a history of dumbass reasoning like this, like focusing on certain categories of people rather than actual risky behavior, even though they could and do easily screen the blood for the things they're worried about. I actually did a paper for my graduate program on the consent decree and increased Federal scrutiny they had to operate under after repeated violations and noncompliance with court orders.


Quote:
Originally Posted by EastWest Gal View Post
From the Red Cross website:

The Red Cross does not currently accept blood donations from individuals who have hereditary hemochromatosis or from those who require treatment for iron overload by therapeutic phlebotomy.

Why?

From a website called Sharecare:

"The American Red Cross, which controls about 45% of the nation's blood supply, does not currently accept donations from people with known hemochromatosis. Everyone agrees that the blood is safe and of high quality. There is no risk of passing on a genetic disease through blood transfusions. But the Red Cross has a long-standing policy that potential donors are not allowed to receive direct compensation for their donation (beyond the usual orange juice and cookie). Because people with hemochromatosis would otherwise have to pay for their therapeutic phlebotomies, they would in effect be getting something of value for being able to donate for free. Thus the Red Cross has ruled that such donations violate their policy."

What a stupid, dumbass reason. Those with hemochromatosis need therapeutic phlebotomy. Donating blood could save the life of the donor. But because of this policy, they throw away the opportunity for the perfect blood donor. They could reduce the shortage in blood products if they change this policy.
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Old 12-13-2019, 12:14 PM   #18
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I don't give via the Red Cross anymore, for various reasons.

I give at another alternative blood bank, The Blood Connection. They have a statement on therapeutic blood donation:

Quote:
The Blood Connection is proud to serve our communities through free therapeutic phlebotomy. We offer various treatments at no cost to patients diagnosed with blood diseases, such as hemochromatosis. Those patients need their blood drawn to prevent or cure their disease. It’s their medicine, and providing it for free is our way of giving back to the communities who support us so well.



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Old 12-13-2019, 12:23 PM   #19
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Is there any harm in using cast iron cookware?
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Old 12-13-2019, 12:30 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by EastWest Gal View Post
From the Red Cross website:

Because people with hemochromatosis would otherwise have to pay for their therapeutic phlebotomies, they would in effect be getting something of value for being able to donate for free.
No quid pro quo, SOB.
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