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Physical exercise could be useful to prevent iron accumulation in postmenopausal women


Designing an adequate exercise program could prevent iron accumulation in post-menopausal women, according to the IronFEMME Project, led by professors Ana Belén Peinado and Rocío Cupeiro, and in which researchers from the Physiology Laboratory Research Group participate. of Effort (LFE Research Group) of the Faculty of Physical Activity and Sports Sciences of the Polytechnic University of Madrid (INEF-UPM).

One of the main objectives of the project is to observe the differences seen in iron metabolism depending on the stage of the hormonal cycle in which female athletes are found.

Some results of the project have already been published in the scientific journals ‘Nutrients’ and ‘Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sport’, and they evaluate the response of hepcidin (a hormone produced by the liver involved in the regulation of iron metabolism) to Exercise in postmenopausal women and the results of the analysis of iron homeostasis in response to exercise in female athletes using oral contraceptives.

Regarding the first work, the researchers discovered that, after practicing a resistance training program, the response of hepcidin to exercise in postmenopausal women is atypical compared to premenopausal women, since the former maintain levels of hepcidin elevated up to 24 hours after exercise.

“The results show that hepcidin remains elevated for a long period of time, and it may be an interesting tool to reduce iron absorption for almost an entire day in postmenopausal women who present an unwanted accumulation of iron”, explains Víctor Manuel Alfaro , predoctoral researcher at the LFE Research Group and main author of the work.

In addition, “postmenopausal women who exercise from a non-competitive or health standpoint and are iron deficient would benefit from a program that alternates training days and days of oral iron supplementation, thus maximizing absorption of this micronutrient “.

On the other hand, the results of the analysis of iron homeostasis in response to exercise in sportswomen who use oral contraceptives show that the different phases of an oral contraceptive cycle (placebo phase and contraceptive-taking phase) do not produce changes in the iron homeostasis in response to exercise.

“In this new study, it is suggested that the variations in the levels of sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone) are too small to produce changes in the response of hepcidin and other iron markers to exercise. Therefore, it is to be expected a similar iron absorption during the two phases of the oral contraceptive cycle after exercise “, assures Víctor Manuel Alfaro.

The expert clarifies that, however, small variations are observed when the woman is at rest: “In the resting values, there is a reduction in serum iron levels during the placebo phase compared to taking the pill, which, based on the existing literature, could be due to the occurrence of menstrual bleeding during the placebo phase “.

For researchers, its application to the prevention and treatment of anemia is one of the main advantages presented by this study: “The advances described allow us to expand knowledge about the physiology of sportswomen to contribute to their health and well-being. Specifically help to understand and prevent the widespread problem of anemia and iron deficiency in female athletes and suggest new ways to tackle the problem. “

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