Noncitrus fruits as novel dietary environmental modifiers of iron stores in people with or without hfe gene mutations.
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OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether citrus fruit, noncitrus fruit, and other dietary factors act as environmental modifiers of iron status in the absence or presence of hemochromatotic HFE gene mutations.
PARTICIPANTS AND METHODS: Iron studies, HFE genotypic analyses, and dietary data from a survey conducted from March 21, 1994, through December 15, 1995, were analyzed for a group of 2232 residents (1105 men, 1127 women) aged 20 to 79 years recruited from the community electoral roll of Busselton in Western Australia. Data were analyzed by linear regression analysis and analysis of covariance.
RESULTS: Higher levels of fresh fruit intake (excluding citrus fruits and citrus juices) had a significant protective effect (P=.002) against high body iron status as gauged by ferritin levels in men, irrespective of HFE genotype. Consumption of 2 or more pieces of fruit per day on average reduced mean serum ferritin levels by 20% compared with average consumption of less than 1 piece of fruit per day. This effect was not observed in women. Consumption of citrus fruits and citrus juices had no significant effects in either sex. No protective effects were observed for tea consumption or any other dietary factors studied. Red meat and alcohol consumption correlated with high body iron stores (P<.05), consistent with previous studies, but did not interact with fruit with regard to effects on serum ferritin (P>.05).
CONCLUSION: Noncitrus fruits are environmental modifiers of iron status independent of HFE genotype. This could have important implications for the provision of evidence-based dietary advice to patients with other iron-storage disorders.