August 24, 2005

Iron levels can be high in ‘metabolic syndrome’

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Some people with the cluster of
conditions known as metabolic syndrome have excessive levels of
iron in their blood, according to investigators in Italy.
Adding iron level measurement to the routine evaluation of
metabolic syndrome patients could help prevent iron-related
tissue damage.

"The metabolic syndrome ... affects approximately 25
percent of western adults," Dr. Domenico Girelli, and
colleagues from the University of Verona, write in the medical
journal Diabetes Care.

A person is considered to have metabolic syndrome if he or
she has three of the following five conditions: large
waistline, high blood pressure, raised insulin levels, excess
body weight and abnormal cholesterol levels.

"The metabolic syndrome is closely linked to insulin
resistance and implies an increased cardiovascular risk," the
team notes. "Accumulating evidence suggests a link between body
iron excess and insulin metabolism."

To investigate further, the researchers examined 269 people
with metabolic syndrome and 210 unaffected "control" subjects.

Average ferritin levels, a measure of iron stores, "were
higher in metabolic syndrome subjects than in control subjects
and increased linearly with the increasing number of metabolic
syndrome features," Girelli's group reports.

The investigators conclude that metabolic syndrome patients
with elevated iron levels may be candidates for treatment to
lower the level.

SOURCE: Diabetes Care, August 2005.