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J Infect Dis. 2001 Oct 1;184(7):936-9. Epub 2001 Aug 17.

Association of pulmonary tuberculosis with increased dietary iron.

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Department of Medicine, University of Zimbabwe School of Medicine, Avondale, Harare, Zimbabwe.


To determine whether increased dietary iron could be a risk factor for active tuberculosis, dietary iron history and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) status were studied in 98 patients with pulmonary tuberculosis and in 98 control subjects from rural Zimbabwe. Exposure to high levels of dietary iron in the form of traditional beer is associated with increased iron stores in rural Africans. HIV seropositivity was associated with a 17.3-fold increase in the estimated odds of developing active tuberculosis (95% confidence interval [95% CI], 7.4-40.6; P<.001), and increased dietary iron was associated with a 3.5-fold increase (95% CI, 1.4-8.9; P=.009). Among patients treated for tuberculosis, HIV seropositivity was associated with a 3.8-fold increase in the estimated hazard ratio of death (95% CI, 1.0-13.8; P=.046), and increased dietary iron was associated with a 1.3-fold increase (95% CI, 0.4-6.4; P=.2). These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that elevated dietary iron may increase the risk of active pulmonary tuberculosis.

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