Previous research suggests that iron acts as a prooxidant to increase the risk of colorectal neoplasia. This study examined effects of dietary intake of iron on colorectal adenoma recurrence using data from an antioxidant clinical trial. All subjects were free of polyps at study entry but had at least one adenoma removed within the 3 months before enrollment. Follow-up colonoscopies were conducted after 1 and 4 years. Patients who developed one or more adenomatous polyps between years 1 and 4 were classified as cases; all others were controls. Dietary iron intake at baseline and at the end of the study was estimated from self-administered food frequency questionnaires and averaged together for each subject, energy-adjusted, and categorized into quartiles. Odds ratios were adjusted for age, center, sex, calories, treatment group, and alcohol, fiber, folate, and fat intakes in unconditional logistic regression analysis. Dietary iron was inversely associated with adenoma risk, although risk did not decrease monotonically with increasing intake. Odds ratios comparing second, third, and fourth quartiles to the lowest quartile were 0.61 [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.37-1.02], 0.80 (95% CI, 0.45-1.44), and 0.37 (95% CI, 0.19-0.73), respectively. A limited examination showed no clear evidence that use of iron supplements affected risk of recurrence in this study population. This study provides evidence against the hypothesis that recent dietary intake of iron increases risk for colorectal adenomas. However, these results may reflect the presence of other dietary factors found in combination with iron.

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