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Am J Med. 2007 Aug;120(8):734.e1-9. Epub 2007 Mar 21.

African Americans at risk for increased iron stores or liver disease.

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Division of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine, Howard University, Washington, DC, USA.



We sought to determine the prevalence of elevated measures of iron status in African Americans and whether the combination of serum ferritin concentration >200 microg/L for women or >300 microg/L for men and transferrin saturation in the highest quartile represents increased likelihood of mutation of HFE, self-reported iron overload or self-reported liver disease.


A cross-sectional observational study of 27,224 African Americans > or =25 years of age recruited in a primary care setting was conducted as part of the multi-center, multi-ethnic Hemochromatosis and Iron Overload Screening (HEIRS) Study. Measurements included serum ferritin concentration, transferrin saturation, testing for HFE C282Y and H63D, and self-reported iron overload and liver disease.


Serum ferritin concentration >200 microg/L for women or >300 microg/L for men occurred in 5263 (19.3%) of African Americans, while serum ferritin concentration in this range with highest-quartile transferrin saturation (>29% women; >35% men) occurred in 1837 (6.7%). Adjusted odds of HFE mutation (1.76 women, 1.67 men), self-reported iron overload (1.97 women, 2.88 men), or self-reported liver disease (5.18 women, 3.73 men) were greater with elevated serum ferritin concentration and highest-quartile transferrin saturation than with nonelevated serum ferritin concentration (each P <.05).


Serum ferritin concentration >200 microg/L for women or >300 microg/L for men in combination with transferrin saturation >29% for women or >35% for men occurs in approximately 7% of adult African American primary care patients. Patients with this combination of iron test results should be evaluated for increased body iron stores or liver disease.

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