Alcohol and Iron

By William Aird

Alcohol is often included in the differential diagnosis of elevated ferritin.

What are the mechanisms?

See * in graphic.

  • Alcohol –> reduced hepcidin –> increased iron absorption.
  • Direct (Fe-independent) induction of ferritin expression.
  • Alcohol-induced inflammation (IL-6-dependent, Fe-independent induction of ferritin expression).
  • Ferritin leak (acute liver injury).


1. Iron and iron‑related proteins in alcohol consumers: cellular and clinical aspects. J Mol Med. 2022;100:1673–168.

2. Decreased hepatic iron in response to alcohol may contribute to alcohol-induced suppression of hepcidin. Br J Nutr. 2016 Jun;115(11):1978-86.