Iron could be damaging to cells in very high doses. A high dose of iron can trigger DNA damage within 10 minutes in the human body, says a study.
"In this study we found that when we applied the kinds of levels of iron you would find in the blood stream after taking an iron tablet, this also seemed to be able to trigger cell damage -- at least in the laboratory," said Claire Shovlin, from the Imperial College London.
Physicians need to look carefully at the amount of iron given in standard treatments, such as tablets and infusions, and the effects it could have on the human body, elicited the study.
The researchers used human endothelial cells that line blood vessels, and added a placebo or an iron solution of 10 micromolar (a similar concentration to that seen in the blood after taking an iron tablet).
Through looking at genes used within cells, and then examining the cells in more detail, they found that within ten minutes, cells treated with the iron solution had activated DNA repair systems.