Hemochromatosis. By: Matthew Casello. Definition. Too much iron in the body Referred to as “Iron Overload ”. Statistics.
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Most common genetic disorder in the United States. It effects 33.5 million Americans where 32 million are silent carriers. That leads 1.5 million people with the expressed homozygous gene. (Center for Disease Control)
Primary (most common form)- Genetic disorder passed down where too much iron is absorbed in the digestive track. Iron builds up in the vascular organs of the body especially the liver. A C282Y mutation in the HFE gene.
Secondary (acquired)- not very common but occurs when someone has to many blood transfusions or alcoholism.
It is believed that Hemochromatosis’s origin dates back 40,000 years from a single person in Ireland. This person’s genes mutated so that he/she could over-absorb iron to compensate for an iron poor diet.
Irish, Scottish and British heritage have higher chances of carrying the mutated gene.
Symptoms- abdominal pain, fatigue, bronze skin color and join pain are the most common.
Treatment- Removing excess iron from the body and treating any organ damage from the excess iron. Treatment is best when treated early before build up of iron occurs in organ tissues.
Removing a half liter of blood from that patient every week until the levels return to normal. After normal levels occur that patent will be bleed less often to maintain iron levels.
Why too much iron is bad
Iron promotes generation of free radicals that can lead to mutagenesis, atherosclerosis, inflammation and bacterial growth.
Increases iron absorption
Puts a further stress on the liver
Smoking contains high levels of iron that is directly absorbed upon inhalation.
Enhances that absorption of Iron .
Should not be taken in supplemental form but should not be eliminated from diet.
Stay away from the many processed foods enhanced with Vitamin C.
Women accumulate iron at a slower rate then men because of the loss of iron from menstruation and breastfeeding.
They develop signs and symptoms of organ damage 10 years later than men.