Is every disease caused by a lack of iron in the body? No, that's not true: There are many different types of disease, including infectious diseases (like hepatitis and COVID-19), non-communicable diseases (such as heart disease and stroke) and genetic diseases (like cystic fibrosis and Huntington's disease), all of which are caused by different factors.
The claim appeared in a reel on Facebook on February 3, 2023. The post featured a man known as "Dr. Sebi" speaking on the significance of iron. He claimed:
It is impossible for you to get sick if your iron level is up to par. Everybody that's sick is anemic. If you have a simple cold, if you have any disease, I don't care what disease you have, you're anemic. Because if your iron was up to par, like I said, you would not be sick. Impossible.
This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Wed Feb 8 17:05:18 2023 UTC)
Contrary to Sebi's claim, the common cold is not caused by a lack of iron. It's an example of an infectious disease caused by a virus. Other examples include hepatitis and COVID-19. Infectious diseases can also be caused by bacteria, fungi and parasites, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The common denominator is a harmful organism that gets into your body from the outside.
In addition to infectious diseases, there are non-communicable diseases, such as heart disease, stroke and chronic lung disease. Collectively, such diseases are responsible for 74 percent of all deaths worldwide, according to the World Health Organization, which notes that there are four major risk factors: tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diets.
There are also genetic diseases that can be caused by a mutation in a person's genes. Examples of such illnesses include cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy and Huntington's disease. These disorders are inherited and not caused by a lack of iron.
That's not to say that a lack of iron in the body can't make you sick: it can. Iron deficiency anemia is a real condition caused by insufficient iron. According to the Mayo Clinic:
Without enough iron, your body can't produce enough of a substance in red blood cells that enables them to carry oxygen (hemoglobin). As a result, iron deficiency anemia may leave you tired and short of breath.
The Mayo Clinic urges those who think they might have an iron deficiency to seek professional help, as overloading on iron supplements can cause liver damage and other complications.
Lead Stories has written a number of other fact checks based on claims made by "Dr. Sebi," who was not a medical doctor and was known for promoting questionable herb-based products. See here for a collection of those debunks.