December 24, 2008

This gift gives back —
it can prevent serious disease

While much of the country is in the gift-giving mood, I want to tell you about a gift you can give that might save someone's life — including your own. First, let me show you how this gift can save your life. Then I'll tell you what it is.

I've told you in the past that high iron levels in your blood are dangerous. One of the best tests for iron load is the ferritin lab test. My cut off has always been 100. Any higher suggests trouble, even though the "normal" range can be far higher. Well, now there's evidence that high iron levels — levels well within the normal range — can cause diabetes.

A Boston study of 32,826 women found higher initial levels of iron in women who went on to develop type-2 diabetes in a 10-year study. And the "higher levels" were well within the "normal range."

Average levels were 109 in the women who developed diabetes, compared with 71.5 for the others. Women in the group with the highest levels - at least 102.2 - were nearly three times more likely to develop diabetes than women in the group with the lowest levels, or less than 21.1.

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Be sure you get your ferritin levels checked regularly. Iron is associated with vascular risk as well. Women's risk of vascular disease is below that of men because of their uterus, not ovaries. The monthly shedding of excess iron prevents the mineral from accumulating and spilling into its free form, which is highly reactive and destructive. When women reach menopause (surgical or natural), their risk quickly approaches that of men.

So what is the gift that can save your life — and someone else's. The best treatment for high iron levels is simple blood donation until your ferritin falls below 80. You can donate once every six to eight weeks to keep your levels in this range. In this season of giving, take some time to donate blood. It truly is the gift of life.

Yours for better health and medical freedom,



Ref: Tanner, Lindsey. "High Iron Levels May Signal Diabetes Risk," Associated Press, February 10, 2004.


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