Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Iron, Ferritin and the Liver

Most doctors only test serum iron levels, while they should always check serum ferritin levels, as this is a more accurate way to gauge iron that is stored in the liver. Elevated serum ferritin can cause oxidative stress, which leads to "fatty liver", fibrosis, elevated liver enzymes and worsening liver health.

Iron’s Role in Hepatitis C Infection

Hepatitis C inflicts most of its damage by latching onto molecules of iron, resulting in free-radical damage to liver cells. In turn, the liver becomes inflamed, which can lead to the formation of scar tissue (fibrosis). If left unchecked, this steady damage will result in cirrhosis or liver cancer.
About 30 percent of people with hepatitis C have very high iron levels. Reduction of serum iron has been shown to normalize liver enzyme levels, which are elevated during periods of active liver damage (Fong TL et al 1998). Iron depletion therapy has also been shown to improve the response to conventional medicines used to treat hepatitis (Fargion S et al 1997). The only effective way to decrease serum iron is to have an iron loss, as occurs when donating blood. Hepatitis C patients cannot donate blood for common use, but their blood can still be removed, although it must be discarded.

Serum ferritin is a measure of the amount of stored iron and is used to guide therapy. A serum ferritin value between 30 and 80 ng/dL is optimal. Many hepatitis C patients have serum ferritin values in excess of 300 ng/dL.

Despite substantial scientific evidence, however, few physicians implement iron-depletion therapy before beginning antiviral therapy. This partially accounts for the high failure rate of conventional drugs in eradicating the virus (Boucher E et al 1997; Martin-Vivaldi R et al 1997; Tsai NC et al 1997.

Hepatitis C Symptoms and Ferritin Levels Video

Other than phlebotomy that can help remove excess iron, I have found the IP-6(Inositol Hexaphosphate) helps lower ferritin levels and keep them down. My serum ferritin was at 176 and after using IP-6, it gradually came down. I switched over to the Jarrow brand of IP-6, which comes in capsules. I had been using a tablet form (Enzymatic Therapy) which was pretty expensive. The capsule form is much cheaper and apparently for me, works much better. My ferritin dropped from 80 to 38 from early September to late December and my lft's normalized.

IP6 Inositol Hexaphosphate

If you use this code: KOV896 you will receive $5.00 off your first order - and I eventually get a discount off of my own order.

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