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Cureus. 2019 Jan 9;11(1):e3858. doi: 10.7759/cureus.3858.

Iron Deficiency Anemia Due to High-dose Turmeric.

Author information

1
Oncology, Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Baltimore, USA.
2
Internal Medicine, Johns Hopkins Medical Institution, Baltimore, USA.

Abstract

Turmeric is increasingly studied as an anti-inflammatory and anti-neoplastic agent. It binds to ferric iron in the gut and causes iron deficiency in mice. We report here a possible case of iron deficiency anemia in a human taking turmeric. A 66-year-old physician treated himself for an osteoarthritis flare after steroids with six turmeric extract capsules (538 mg) daily, to help with inflammation. During this time, his hemoglobin never rose above 12 and his iron and ferritin levels were consistent with iron deficiency. Upper and lower endoscopy and Hemoccult™ studies were negative. Two weeks after stopping the turmeric and continuing his usual iron supplement, his hemoglobin had returned to normal, with normalizing iron studies. Turmeric was associated with significant iron deficiency anemia, consistent with the binding of available iron in the gut and the prevention of absorption. This resolved after the turmeric was stopped, consistent with animal studies. This may be the first case of documented iron deficiency anemia in people due to turmeric supplements. Given the widespread use of turmeric and curcumin supplements across many illnesses, further attention is warranted.

KEYWORDS:

curcumin; iron deficiency anemia; turmeric

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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