What You Don't Know About Excess Iron Could Kill You
In his mid-40s, Bill was a successful businessman and happy with his family life. But then he began to feel tired and depressed. He had pain in his joints and belly, and his skin took on a yellowish tinge. After several years of medical visits and various diagnoses of depression, mid-life crisis, arthritis, and a stress-induced digestive disorder, a few simple blood tests finally revealed that he had hemochromatosis. Bill's story is not unique. Many Americans have this genetic disorder, and many do not know it.
What Is Hemochromatosis?Hemochromatosis is a condition that causes the body to absorb and store too much iron. Some iron is essential for carrying oxygen in the blood to organs and tissues, but too much is toxic. Hemochromatosis is a common cause of iron overload. Excess iron builds up in organs such as the heart, liver, joints, pancreas, and pituitary gland. If untreated, this can cause organ damage, and lead to heart attack, diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver, arthritis, depression, and premature death. The mutated gene for hemochromatosis can be passed on to offspring.