Certain iron supplements may influence the development of colon cancer
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IMAGE: Ferric citrate and ferric EDTA, are often used in dietary supplements and as a food additive respectively, in worldwide markets including the USA and the EU. view more 

Credit: Yen Strandqvist/Chalmers University of Technology

Two common iron compounds increase the formation of a known biomarker for cancer, according to a new study of cancer cells from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden. The two compounds, ferric citrate and ferric EDTA, are often used in dietary supplements and as a food additive respectively, in worldwide markets including the USA and the EU.

The researchers studied ferric citrate and ferric EDTA, which have both previously been shown to worsen tumour formation in mice with colon cancer. The science behind this has been little understood until now, and possible effects on human cells were not previously investigated.

The new study, which was in collaboration with the UK Medical Research Council and Cambridge University, looked at the effect of normal supplemental doses of these compounds on two types of cultured human colon cancer cells. As a comparison, they also measured the effects of ferrous sulphate, another very commonly available iron compound.

While ferrous sulphate had no effect, both ferric citrate and ferric EDTA

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