A Discussion on Iron and Health with Leo Zacharski, M.D.

Leo Zacharski, M.D., is a hematologist, oncologist, and professor at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, and is arguably the world’s leading expert on the relation between iron and disease. He’s done pathbreaking studies, including clinical trials, on the effects of iron in cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Not least among his accomplishments, he wrote the preface to my book, Dumping Iron. Dr Zacharski sat down with me to discuss both the basics on iron and health and the most recent developments, many of which he has a hand in discovering.



Admittedly, this video ran into overtime. So, in case you want some highlights, here are a few:

Beginning: I ask Dr. Zacharski about recent developments in iron, and he gives an excellent summary of the evidence for iron in cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes.

10:30 – I ask what are the most important determinants of excess ferritin, whether metabolic dysregulation, alcohol, iron fortification, etc. Dr. Zacharski mentions that Quebec Metal Powders, now known as Rio Tinto Metal Powders, is the major source of food iron fortification in the U.S.

30:00 How much of the worse health from excess iron is driven by very high ferritin levels, e.g. over 600.

36:30 I interrupt to give my little spiel on the relation of evolution to iron to aging.

43:00 How Dr. Zacharski and colleagues figured out the true normal range of ferritin. (Discussed also in this article.)

Some of Dr. Zacharski’s publications that we discussed in this video:

Association of age, sex, and race with body iron stores in adults: Analysis of NHANES III data

Decreased Cancer Risk After Iron Reduction in Patients With Peripheral Arterial Disease: Results From a Randomized Trial

Effect of controlled reduction of body iron stores on clinical outcomes in peripheral arterial disease

Potential Role of Iron in a Mediterranean-style Diet

Ferrotoxic Disease: The Next Great Public Health Challenge

Ferritin and Percent Transferrin Saturation Levels Predict Type 2 Diabetes Risk and Cardiovascular Disease Outcomes

We didn’t get a chance to discuss this one, but this is a great paper by Dr. Zacharski on iron, hypercoagulation, and cancer:

Hypercoagulability preceding cancer


A big thanks to Dr. Zacharski for taking the time to talk with me.

PS: You can read more on this topic in my book, Dumping Iron.

PPS: Check out my Supplements Buying Guide for Men.