How Does your Iron Intake Affect your Cancer Risk?

Researchers have discovered that your iron levels and a faulty gene in the body could be associated with developing bowel cancer. Deborah Alsina, the CEO of Bowel Cancer UK, made a statement in which she said that the development was an exciting one for the charity and could offer a real breakthrough for patients with the disease. Research is still being carried out in order to further examine the link, but it could help prevent thousands of deaths each year. It highlights the need for a balanced diet, so that everyone gets the nutrients they need for a healthy functioning body.


It’s thought that high levels of iron could increase your risk of bowel cancer through switching on a key pathway in people who have faults with the anti-cancer genes. The study, carried out by University of Birmingham and the Beaston Institute for Cancer Research in Glasgow, discovered that bowel cancer was up to three times more likely to develop with a faulty APC gene in mice who had a high iron diet, compared to those who still had a functioning APC gene.


The study could help explain why high-iron foods such as meat could increase the risk of this form of cancer. Two proteins are switched on when the APC gene is deleted, meaning that a key cancer signalling pathway called WNT is also switched on – this causes the cancerous cells to multiply and grow out of control. Researchers hope that these findings could help prevent cancer for millions of people each year and, with further exploration, it could help determine which foods we need in our diets in order to fend off the disease.

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