oa South African Medical Journal - Serum iron and iron-binding capacity in the Bantu



The iron metabolism picture in the Bantu is interesting on account of their unusually high iron intake, the frequent occurrence of siderosis, the rarity of hypochromic anaemia, and the elevations of serum iron levels and total iron-binding capacity which are occasionally observed. This paper deals with levels of serum iron, total ironbinding capacity, and haemoglobin, in groups of young adult Bantu mine labourers from different regions in Southern Africa. In some groups, values for serum iron are higher than any yet reported, including the high values very frequently found in diseases such as haemochromatosis and transfusional siderosis. Also, in certain groups, elevations of total iron-binding capacity have been found, an unusual and unexpected finding. The latter observation, associated with unsaturation of the iron-binding protein in the serum, constitutes a salient difference between what is observed in some Bantu, and in the two diseases mentioned. An interesting finding is the high average Rb. level for all groups studied. Present knowledge is inadequate to allow us to determine whether a correlation exists between abnormally high values in the serum, and Ca) habitual level of iron intake, and Cb) incidence of siderosis.


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