(HealthDay News) — Higher levels of ferritin and transferrin correlate with increased risk of type 2 diabetes among men and women, according to a study published in Diabetes Care.

Clara Podmore, PhD, from the University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine in the United Kingdom, and colleagues examined the prospective association of ferritin, transferrin saturation, serum iron, and transferrin with incident type 2 diabetes in 11 052 cases and 15 182 controls. The authors further assessed whether the correlations differed by subgroups in the population.

The researchers found that after adjustment for age, center, BMI, physical activity, smoking status, education, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, alanine aminotransferase, and gamma-glutamyl transferase, higher levels of ferritin and transferrin correlated with increased type 2 diabetes risk (hazard ratios [HRs] in men and women, respectively=1.07 and 1.12 per 100 mcg/L higher ferritin level; 1.11 and 1.22 per 0.5 g/L higher transferrin level).

In women, but not men, elevated transferrin saturation correlated with a lower risk for type 2 diabetes (HR=0.68). There was no correlation for serum iron with type 2 diabetes

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Among leaner individuals, the correlation of ferritin with type 2 diabetes was stronger (Pinteraction<.01).

“The pattern of association of transferrin saturation and transferrin with type 2 diabetes suggests that the underlying relationship between iron stores and type 2 diabetes is more complex than the simple link suggested by the association of ferritin with type 2 diabetes,” the researchers wrote.


  1. Podmore C, Meidtner K, Schulze MB, et al. The Association of Multiple Biomarkers of Iron Metabolism and Type 2 Diabetes: The EPIC-InterAct Study. Diabetes Care. 2016. doi:10.2337/dc15-0257.