1 Department of Clinical Medicine, Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet2 unknown3 Department of Clinical Medicine, Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet
general population study and metaanalysis
BACKGROUND: Previous population-based studies of plasma ferritin concentration have not revealed a relationship with total mortality. We tested the possible association of increased ferritin concentrations with increased risk of total and cause-specific mortality in the general population. METHODS: We examined total and cause-specific mortality according to baseline plasma ferritin concentrations in a Danish population-based study (the Copenhagen City Heart Study) of 8988 individuals, 6364 of whom died (median follow-up 23 years). We also included a metaanalysis of total mortality comprising population-based studies according to ferritin quartiles or tertiles. RESULTS: Multifactorially adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) for total mortality for individuals with ferritin ≥200 vs <200 μg/L were 1.1 (95% CI 1.1-1.2; P = 0.0008) overall, 1.1 (1.0-1.2; P = 0.02) in men, and 1.2 (1.0-1.3; P = 0.03) in women. Stepwise increasing concentrations of ferritin were associated with a stepwise increased risk of premature death overall (log rank, P = 2 × 10(-22)), with median survival of 55 years at ferritin concentrations ≥600 μg/L, 72 years at 400-599 μg/L, 76 years at 200-399 μg/L, and 79 years at ferritin <200 μg/L. The corresponding HR for total overall mortality for ferritin ≥600 vs <200 μg/L was 1.5 (1.2-1.8; P = 0.00008). Corresponding adjusted HRs for ferritin ≥600 vs <200 μg/L were 1.6 (1.1-2.3; P = 0.01) for cancer mortality, 2.9 (1.7-5.0; P = 0.0001) for endocrinological mortality, and 1.5 (1.1-2.0; P = 0.01) for cardiovascular mortality. The metaanalysis random effects odds ratio for total mortality for ferritin upper vs reference quartile or tertile was 1.0 (0.9-1.1; P = 0.3) (P heterogeneity = 0.5). CONCLUSIONS: Moderately to markedly increased ferritin concentrations represent a biological biomarker predictive of early death in a dose-dependent linear manner in the general population.