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Med Hypotheses. 2009 Dec;73(6):948-9. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2009.06.030. Epub 2009 Jul 23.

Is addition of iron to processed foods safe for iron replete consumers?

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Department of Biology and Medical Sciences Program, Indiana University, Jordan Hall, 142, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA.


The great majority of US adults are iron replete; indeed, some are burdened with an excessive amount of the metal. Nevertheless, iron continues to be added by food processors to such items as flour, other grains and ready-to-eat cereals. In some cases, actual added quantities exceed the labeled amounts. Iron is a dangerous pro-oxidant as well as a mutagen and carcinogen. The metal is a serious risk factor for a variety of cardiovascular, endocrine, infectious, neoplasmic, neurodegenerative, orthopedic and respiratory diseases. For many of the conditions, iron can be a sole initiator or a cofactor in promoting the disease. For others, iron deposits are found in relevant tissue sites. For numerous additional diseases, iron is associated with elevated disease incidence. Accordingly, critical evaluation of the indiscriminate practice of adding the metal to processed foods is overdue.

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