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Hemochromatosis (Iron Overload Disease)

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Microscopic View of Hemochromatosis Stained Blue. Courtesy Wikimedia

What Is Hemochromatosis?

Hemochromatosis, also called iron overload liver disease, is a common inherited disease in the Caucasian population that is characterized by increased iron deposition within the tissues (overload) associated with injury to them.

Hemochromatosis is an autosomal recessive disease, meaning a pair of abnormal genes are inherited from each parent. Parents are unaffected because they carry only one gene.

Q: Where is iron deposited?

A: In hemochromatosis, more iron is absorbed from the small intestine than is needed by the body. Subsequently, because the body has no satisfactory means to release iron overload, excess iron is deposited in various organs such as the liver causing cirrhosis, joints causing arthritis, and the pancreas causing diabetes mellitus.1

Consumption of alcoholic drinks with food should be avoided because alcohol increases leaky gut and greatly increases the absorption of iron. On the flip side, eggs and foods containing calcium such as milk and cheese are beneficial for hemochromatosis because they impair the absorption of iron. Another iron inhibitor is food that contains phytic acid which includes the bran and outer layer of grains, seeds, nuts, peas, beans, and lentils.

Iron overloading, as measured by a random (non-fasting) elevated transferrin saturation value, is estimated to occur in 1 to 6 people per 100 in the United States according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). Too much iron increases the risk for metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes mellitus, cancer, liver disease, and osteoporosis.

Medical treatment to remove excess iron from the body uses phlebotomy that draws blood through a vein and/or certain injectable drugs (deferoxamine and deferairox) that bind to iron.

What Is Hemochromatosis In Celiac Disease and/or Gluten Sensitivity?


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  1. www.irondisorders.org []