Treatment of mild non-chemotherapy-induced iron deficiency anemia in cancer patients: comparison between oral ferrous bisglycinate chelate and ferrous sulfate

Biomed Pharmacother. 2012 Sep;66(6):414-8. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2012.06.003. Epub 2012 Jun 29.


In cancer patients mild-moderate non-chemotherapy-induced iron deficiency anemia (IDA) is usually treated with oral iron salts, mostly ferrous sulfate. In this study, we compare efficacy and toxicity of oral ferrous bisglycinate chelate and ferrous sulfate in cancer patients with mild IDA. Twenty-four patients operated on for solid tumors (10 breast, 12 colorectal, 2 gastric), aged 61±10 years (range 45-75), with non-chemotherapy-induced hemoglobin (Hb) values between 10 and 12 g/dL and ferritin lower than 30 ng/mL were randomized to receive oral ferrous bisglycinate chelate, 28 mg per day for 20 days, and then 14 mg per day for 40 days (12 patients) (A group) or oral ferrous sulphate, 105 mg per day for 60 days (12 patients) (B group). Values of hemoglobin and ferritin obtained at diagnosis, 1 and 2 months from the beginning of treatment were compared. Adverse events (AEs) related to the two treatments were recorded. In the 12 patients treated with ferrous bisglycinate chelate, basal hemoglobin and ferritin values (mean±SD) were 11.6±0.8 g/dL and 16.1±8.0 ng/mL. After 2 months of treatment, they were 13.0±1.4 g/dL and 33.8±22.0 ng/mL, respectively (P=0.0003 and P=0.020). In the group treated with ferrous sulphate, hemoglobin and ferritin mean values were 11.3±0.6 g/dL and 19.0±6.4 ng/mL basally, and 12.7±0.70 g/dL and 40.8±28.1 ng/mL (P<0.0001 and P=0.017) after 2 months of treatment. AEs occurred in six cases. In all these six cases, two (17%) treated with ferrous bisglycinate chelate and four (33%) with ferrous sulphate, toxicity was grade 1. In conclusion, these data suggest that ferrous bisglycinate chelate has similar efficacy and likely lower GI toxicity than ferrous sulphate given at the conventional dose of 105 mg per day for the same time.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / blood
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / complications
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / diet therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / complications*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / complications*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Dietary Supplements* / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Ferritins / blood
  • Ferrous Compounds / adverse effects
  • Ferrous Compounds / therapeutic use*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glycine / adverse effects
  • Glycine / therapeutic use
  • Hematinics / adverse effects
  • Hematinics / therapeutic use*
  • Hemoglobins / analysis
  • Humans
  • Iron Chelating Agents / adverse effects
  • Iron Chelating Agents / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Stomach Neoplasms / complications*
  • Stomach Neoplasms / drug therapy


  • Ferrous Compounds
  • Hematinics
  • Hemoglobins
  • Iron Chelating Agents
  • ferrous sulfate
  • Ferritins
  • ferrous bisglycinate
  • Glycine