Serum ferritin and death from all causes and cardiovascular disease: The NHANES II Mortality Study

Ct. Sempos et al., Serum ferritin and death from all causes and cardiovascular disease: The NHANES II Mortality Study, ANN EPIDEMI, 10(7), 2000, pp. 441-448
Citations number
Categorie Soggetti
Envirnomentale Medicine & Public Health
Journal title
ISSN journal
1047-2797 → ACNP
Year of publication
441 - 448
SICI code
PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to assess the association between se rum ferritin and death from all causes, cardiovascular diseases (CVD), CHD and myocardial infarction (MI). Positive body iron stores have been propose d as a risk factor for coronary heart disease (CHD). While most epidemiolog ic studies using serum ferritin and other measures of body iron stores have not found an association between iron and heart disease risk, the hypothes is remains controversial. As a result, we examined the relationship of seru m ferritin, the principle blood measure of body iron stores, to risk of dea th in a cohort with a standardized exam and long follow-up. METHODS: The baseline data for this prospective cohort study were collected in 1976-1980 as part of the second National Health and Nutrition Examinati on Study (NHANES II) with mortality followup using the National Death Index (NDI) through December 31, 1992. The analytic sample (n = 1604) consisted of 128 black men, 658 white men, 100 black women and 718 white women 45-74 years of age at baseline who, based on self-reported data, were free of cor onary heart disease at baseline and had no missing data. The main outcome m easures were the relative risk of death for persons with serum ferritin lev els: <50 mu g/L; or 100-199 mu g/L; or greater than or equal to 200 mu g/L was compared to persons with serum ferritin levels of 50-99 mu g/L adjusted for possible confounding using the Cox proportional hazards model. RESULTS: Most of the deaths were among white men (n = 254) and women (n = 1 68). There were relatively few deaths among black men (n = 50) and too few in women (n = 23) to reliably model. The largest number of CVD (n = 119), C HD (n = 82), and MI (n = 49) deaths were in white men while there were 69 C VD, 45 CHD and 13 MI deaths in white women. Black men with a serum ferritin level of <50 mu g/L had a significantly higher adjusted risk of death from all causes (RR = 3.1 with 95% confidence limits of 1.5-6.5). There were no other statistically significant associations for all causes mortality for the other three race/sex groups. Additionally, there were no statistically significant associations between serum ferritin and any of the cardiovascul ar endpoints for any of the groups. There was an apparent but nonsignifican t u-shaped association between serum ferritin and all causes mortality in b lack men and between serum ferritin and CVD death in white women. However, in both cases very wide confidence limits preclude further interpretation. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, the results do not support the hypothesis that positi ve body iron stores, as measured by serum ferritin, are associated with an increased risk of CVD, CHD or MT death or between serum ferritin and all ca uses mortality. Most of the research to date with serum ferritin has been c onducted in European men or in European American men. Our results are consi stent with the primarily negative results for that race/sex group. More res earch is needed in women and minority groups, including an explanation of w hy such an association would exist in these groups but not in white men bef ore an association can be established in them. Ann Epidemiol 2000;10:441-44 8. Published by Elsevier Science Inc.