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Higher serum ferritin concentration do not increase the risk of coronary heart disease in postmenopausal women in the general population

Iron is an essential mineral for the human body. It has, however, been suggested that excessive iron stores may increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. So far, results of epidemiological studies have been inconclusive. We use data of a cohort of 11,471 Dutch postmenopausal women to investigate whether high serum ferritin concentrations increase the risk of coronary heart disease. Women were included in the study between 1993 and 1997 and were followed until January 1st 2000 for cardiovascular events.

Casecohort sampling was used to reduce costs and save valuable biologic material. Serum ferritin levels were assessed with an immuno-metric assay on all 185 coronary heart disease cases and a random sample of 1,134 of the total cohort. We used a weighted Cox proportional hazards model to estimate crude, age-adjusted and multivariate adjusted hazard ratios for serum ferritin levels in relation to coronary heart disease. The multivariate adjusted hazard ratio for the highest serum ferritin tertile compared to the lowest tertile was 0.80 (95% CI: 0.46-1.38) for coronary heart disease (CHD) and 0.62 (95% CI: 0.26-1.50) for acute myocardial infarction (AMI).

Conclusions: The results of this study do not support an association between high serum ferritin levels and coronary heart disease or acute myocardial infarction.

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