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Stroke. 2013 Feb;44(2):334-9. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.112.679662. Epub 2013 Jan 10.

Heme iron intake and risk of stroke: a prospective study of men.

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Department of Human Nutrition, Warsaw University of Life Sciences-SGGW, 159C Nowoursynowska St., 02-776 Warsaw, Poland.



Intake of iron, especially heme iron, has been associated with several diseases. However, epidemiological studies of heme iron and nonheme iron intake in relation to risk of stroke are lacking. The aim of this study was to examine the associations between heme iron and nonheme iron intake and stroke incidence in men.


The population-based prospective Cohort of Swedish Men included 38 859 men, aged 45 to 79 years, who had no history of stroke, coronary heart disease, or cancer at baseline. Hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) were calculated using Cox proportional hazards regression models.


During an 11.7 years follow-up, 3097 incident cases of stroke, including 2482 cerebral infarctions and 450 intracerebral hemorrhages, were registered. The hazard ratios of total stroke and cerebral infarction for the highest compared with the lowest quintiles of heme iron intake were 1.16 (95% CI, 1.03-1.31; P trend=0.037) and 1.15 (95% CI, 1.00-1.31; P trend=0.089), respectively. The incidence rates of total stroke per 10 000 person-years were 72.6 in the lowest quintile and 84.4 in the highest. The association was confined to men with body mass index <25 kg/m(2), the hazard ratios were 1.40 (95% CI, 1.17-1.68; P trend<0.001) for total stroke and 1.38 (95% CI, 1.13-1.70; P trend=0.001) for cerebral infarction; no association was observed among overweight and obese men. There was no association between nonheme iron intake and risk of total stroke and stroke types.


Findings from this prospective study indicate that a high heme iron intake, particularly in normal weight individuals, may increase the risk of stroke.

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