Concentrations of iron similar to those delivered in standard treatments can trigger DNA damage within ten minutes, when given to cells in the lab.
The findings have come from Imperial College London scientists, who suggest that researchers need to look carefully at the amount of iron given in standard treatments, such as infusions and tablets, and the effects this could be having on the body.
The scientists used human endothelial cells that line blood vessels, and added a placebo or an iron solution of 10 micromolar (a similar concentration to that seen in the blood after taking an iron tablet).
After looking at genes used within cells, and then analyzing the cells, it was found that within ten minutes, cells treated with the iron solution had activated DNA repair systems.
The research has been published in the journal PLOS ONE.