Iron is an essential nutrient our bodies need for normal processes, such as formation of red blood cells.
A lack of iron in our diets can lead to anemia, a very common medical condition, It’s so common, in fact, that most studies about iron in the public health sector historically were related to iron deficiency.
But now we know that having too much iron in your system is a risk factor for cancer, including colorectal cancer and there is growing evidence that iron-rich red and processed meats are associated with carcinogenesis. Meanwhile, the American Cancer Society lists colorectal cancer as the third most common cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States.
Which brings up the question: Should we avoid red meat?
“It’s all about balance,” says Xiang Xue, Ph.D., an assistant professor in UNM’s Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. “Everyone needs iron in their diet, but in moderation.”