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Iron: An emerging factor in colorectal carcinogenesis

Keywords: Iron , Haem , Colorectal cancer , Oxidative stress , Inflammation , Haemochromatosis

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The carcinogenic potential of iron in colorectal cancer (CRC) is not fully understood. Iron is able to undergo reduction and oxidation, making it important in many physiological processes. This inherent redox property of iron, however, also renders it toxic when it is present in excess. Iron-mediated generation of reactive oxygen species via the Fenton reaction, if uncontrolled, may lead to cell damage as a result of lipid peroxidation and oxidative DNA and protein damage. This may promote carcinogenesis through increased genomic instability, chromosomal rearrangements as well as mutations of proto-oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes. Carcinogenesis is also affected by inflammation which is exacerbated by iron. Population studies indicate an association between high dietary iron intake and CRC risk. In this editorial, we examine the link between iron-induced oxidative stress and inflammation on the pathogenesis of CRC.


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