Iron supplements can be used to treat a number of conditions in which patients can develop anemia. For instance, studies indicate that 28 percent and 87 percent of people with mild and severe kidney disease, respectively, develop anemia. Gastrointestinal bleeding—for example, from cancer of the colon and rectum, inflammatory bowel disease, hemorrhoids and infection—may also lead to anemia. Anemia is also common during pregnancy, especially during the second and third trimesters, as the amount of blood in the body can increase up to 30 percent. Owing to heavy menstrual periods, iron deficiency is present in an estimated 6 million women in the United States, 3 million of whom will become anemic and may require iron supplements. Finally, roughly 70 percent of individuals undergoing chemotherapy will develop anemia, as chemotherapy drugs attack healthy red blood cells along with cancer cells.
In addition, iron supplements may be used to treat individuals with iron deficiencies related to injury, an iron-poor diet or bodies going through changes that require increased red blood cell creation, such as a child during a growth spurt.