CSN Login
Members Online: 15

Iron is a cancer promotor?

LaundryQueen's picture
LaundryQueen
Posts: 682
Joined: Mar 2011

I know the subject of iron supplements has come up on the discussion board before. I think it is worth having a discussion with the oncologist about iron supplementation--especially, once anemia has resolved.

I found the following at this web site: http://www.howcurecancer.com/

**********************************************************************************************

Given that tumor cells utilize iron as a primary growth factor, cancer researchers are searching for a drug that would be able to attach to (chelate) iron molecules and remove them from the body, thus producing an effective anti-cancer drug. Researchers at Wake Forest University Health Sciences state that iron chelators may be of value as therapeutic agents in the treatment of cancer. They may act by depleting iron, a necessary nutrient, and limiting tumor growth.

Adriamycin (doxorubicin), an antibiotic drug often used for cancer treatment, is an iron binder. One of the major drawbacks of Adriamycin is that it can result in damage to the heart. In certain circumstances, this drug can release iron from its storage protein (ferritin), resulting in the heart damage.

Even if Adriamycin cures cancer, the patient may still die of a heart problem. Recently, an oral drug that can remove iron from the body was introduced. Ferriprox (deferiprone) is the world's first and only orally active iron chelating drug, which is effective and inexpensive to produce, but has similar toxicity to other chelating drugs.

Iron sequestering molecules are currently utilized to treat cancer and less toxic iron chelators are being sought. Many of the drugs and alternative therapies for cancer already involve iron chelation.

Tethys41's picture
Tethys41
Posts: 1057
Joined: Sep 2010

I know my iron levels were high a couple of months before my diagnosis, and I was always borderline anemic. My naturopath says high iron levels are an indicator of cancer. Copper works the same way.

LaundryQueen's picture
LaundryQueen
Posts: 682
Joined: Mar 2011

Good point. I think it is more accurate to say that an elevated ferritin level (the measure of stored iron) CAN indicate cancer but it can also indicate inflammation. Were you checked for hemachromatosis?

LQ

Tethys41's picture
Tethys41
Posts: 1057
Joined: Sep 2010

I wasn't checked for hemachromatosis. A few months earlier, my iron was low. So, I went on an iron supplement. Then it was too high, so I stopped the supplement and started having OC symptoms shortly thereafter. Don't know how this was all connected, but high iron was not a good thing for me.

Hissy_Fitz's picture
Hissy_Fitz
Posts: 1869
Joined: Sep 2009

I was slightly anemic prior to my diagnosis - for years - and of course, that just got worse with chemo. It took 6 units of packed red blood cells to get me thru chemo.

I'm still anemic, but it's much better, now that I am no longer in treatment.

Carlene

LaundryQueen's picture
LaundryQueen
Posts: 682
Joined: Mar 2011

I posted this information for a good reason as I think there is a LOT of confusion about anemia & iron supplementation going around on this discussion board.

There are different kinds of anemias and iron supplemenation is NOT good unless you are confirmed to have iron deficiency anemia.

The anemia a person gets from chemo is NOT iron deficiency anemia. Anyone who tells you to take an iron supplement because you are anemic from chemo needs to go back and hit the books on the treatment of the different anemias.

The problem with the anemia that comes from taking chemo is that the bone marrow is not making the red blood cells...often not making the white blood cells either.

If you hemorrhage during surgery or have chronic blood loss, then it makes sense to replace the iron that was lost. Just because a person is anemic doesn't mean taking iron is going to help.

When a person has a chronic disease such as kidney disease, congestive heart failure or cancer, there is a lot of stress on the red cells--basically, they get "beaten up" from the chronic inflammation and removed from circulation sooner than normal.

This is called "anemia of chronic disease" and it is NOT recommended to give an iron supplement to a person who has anemia of chronic disease. In fact, taking iron is going to contribute to inflammation as it is a "pro-oxident" and make the person worse.

If you are taking an iron supplement, Carlene or anyone else, PLEASE ask your doctor to do an "anemia profile" blood test on you and see if you REALLY need iron.

LQ

mom2greatkids's picture
mom2greatkids
Posts: 512
Joined: Jun 2011

My surgeon (GYN/ONC) put me on OTC iron supplement after surgery. My medical oncologist took me off of the supplement. (I had to go 3 hrs for surgery, doing chemo locally) This was due to insurance, of course :)

LaundryQueen's picture
LaundryQueen
Posts: 682
Joined: Mar 2011

Your med/onc knows what your gyn/onc doesn't.

LQ

Hissy_Fitz's picture
Hissy_Fitz
Posts: 1869
Joined: Sep 2009

My Gyn/Onc prescribed a multi-vitamin with iron after my surgery, and he has kept me on it, because my RBC is still low. I was already taking injections of B12 for pernicious anemia, confirmed before I was diagnosed with OC, but I don't remember what test they used. My Gyn/Onc is oppossed to anyone taking Vit B12, unless they have a confirmed case of pernicious anemia.

My anemia during treatment was from the chemo, of course. And it was treated with the transfusions of packed red cells (plus the oral iron in the vitamin tablet). The transfusions will get your RBC up very quickly. Without them, I would have had to postpone treatment on several occassions.

Carlene

LaundryQueen's picture
LaundryQueen
Posts: 682
Joined: Mar 2011

@Carlene: Yes, I understand your treatment but you don't "get" what I am trying to tell you.

When those red blood cells that were transfused into you died (and they did evenually die), the iron that they were carrying went straight to your liver to store up as ferritin...if all you needed was iron to build your new red blood cells, you wouldn't be anemic.

Unless you are bleeding somewhere, you are at risk of becoming iron toxic because you are continuing to take an iron supplement. No man or post-menopausal woman is EVER recommended to take iron unless it is proven that they are iron deficient.

You are anemic because of your chemo-poisoned bone marrow not because you need iron.

Do you understand what I am trying to tell you? Just say yes, even if you don't. ; )

(((hugs)))

LQ

carolenk's picture
carolenk
Posts: 909
Joined: Feb 2011

If Carlene wants to follow her doctor's instructions, maybe you should just let her, OK?

(((hugs)))

Carolen

rose_marie's picture
rose_marie
Posts: 75
Joined: Jan 2011

Thank you LQ for your plain and simple explanation of deficiency anemia and anemia of chronic disease.
My iron is also low due to chemo and I was going to start taking Feosal with dinner. So glad I read your post.

Thanks much,
Rosemarie

NCEllen's picture
NCEllen
Posts: 117
Joined: Nov 2009

I needed extra iron initially to up my hemoglobin and promote wound healing. I think the intake of how much iron one needs varies for each individual. Chemo zapped me and I needed a transfusion down the line (I think it was after the 6th round of my first line treatment). At this point I don't need extra iron although my hemoglobin is at the very low end of normal.
When I think about it, most of us are starting chemo very soon after major surgery and some of us go into surgery with low hemoglobin (slight anemia that maybe chronic as well) so it's a two fold effort to reach a healthy level on both counts.
Understanding the chemo destruction of bone marrow loss causing low RBC's, and low iron due to the body healing from trauma, it's psychologically pleasing for some (esp. me) knowing that an iron booster like a good cheeseburger or steak helps me feel better 'cause I'm eating for iron anything - in moderation of course. For the vegans, I don't see the iron supplements as being a problem (overkill can be another issue used in studies) but don't forget the shake for calcium! It couldn't hurt.... at least every once in a while. :)

ACD's picture
ACD
Posts: 4
Joined: Jun 2011

Thanks! I needed to read this! I had 3 red blood cell transfusions (2 units each) to get me through my chemo. I had the major surgery, too, and was told to take iron pills. I think I will stop that right now!

ACD's picture
ACD
Posts: 4
Joined: Jun 2011

Thanks! I needed to read this! I had 3 red blood cell transfusions (2 units each) to get me through my chemo. I had the major surgery, too, and was told to take iron pills. I think I will stop that right now!

LaundryQueen's picture
LaundryQueen
Posts: 682
Joined: Mar 2011

I am not advocating that anyone stop taking iron--I am saying have yourself checked to be sure that you NEED iron.

Don't just take iron without knowing that you are iron deficient, OK? If you need iron, you need it and should get checked periodically before continuing on iron. Having a low RBC count or low hemaglobin alone is not enough of a good reason to take iron when you also have had ovarian cancer and treatment.

LQ

Hissy_Fitz's picture
Hissy_Fitz
Posts: 1869
Joined: Sep 2009

While I appreciate and respect everyone's point of view, I think it's foolhardy to just toss out your meds because of something posted on an internet forum. If your doctor has recommended iron supplements, there must be a reason. If you would like to know WHY he prescribed the iron, then ask, but at least get a second medical opinion before you discontinue something.

My PCP is an internist. He runs more tests than I really care to have run, but in the end, I bow to his professional expertise.

Carlene

LaundryQueen's picture
LaundryQueen
Posts: 682
Joined: Mar 2011

@Carlene: I agree with you about checking with the doctor before stopping or starting any meds/supplements, thanks for re-inforcing that point.

LQ

faithbarbalace's picture
faithbarbalace
Posts: 15
Joined: Jul 2011

please, i have been looking for a common sence, down to earth person to talk to. help?

carolenk's picture
carolenk
Posts: 909
Joined: Feb 2011

Yeah, that LaundryQueen does like to share her thoughts! Sometimes you have to take them with a grain of salt...no offense, girlfriend! LOL!

(((hugs)))

Carolen

LaundryQueen's picture
LaundryQueen
Posts: 682
Joined: Mar 2011

@Carolen: Yeah, people do need to realize that I am NOT trying to give medical advice--just clue people in to information that I think is the "need to know" kind.

I keep trying to stay off this discussion board as I have way too much to do cleaning my house but I have to admit that this is a great group of people and I just want to know how everyone is doing.

I rarely watch those reality TV shows but, somehow, this seems like the same kind of attraction. Imagine if they did a reality TV show for any one of us? I probably would watch that.

LQ

lindaprocopio's picture
lindaprocopio
Posts: 2022
Joined: Oct 2008

My RBC always tanked with chemo, & even now that I have been on a chemo break since spring, my RBC remains below normal. I took OTC time-release iron in preparation for my hysterectomy in 2008 and the anticipated blood loss, and right after, on the advice of my surgeon. But since then I have had complex blood analysis regularly that show my iron levels were adequate even when my RBC was low. There is more to enemia than low iron; the rest is just harder to treat. With liver mets, I would be afraid to be taking iron now. But if anyone is taking an iron supplement, I would ask for an undated complex blood analysis to make sure I needed it.

Subscribe with RSS
About Cancer Society

The content on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition. Use of this online service is subject to the disclaimer and the terms and conditions.

Copyright 2000-2014 © Cancer Survivors Network