A Genetic Curse?

Hemochromatosis – do you have it?

Do you feel tired all the time?  Have you experienced any of the following symptoms:   joint pain, bronzing or greying of the skin, loss of libido, thyroid problems, elevated glucose and triglyceride levels, enlarged liver and cirrhosis or irregular heartbeat?

If you do, you may have a genetic illness that causes excessive iron storage.   This disease is Hemochromatosis.

Hemochromatosis is one of the most common genetic diseases affecting persons of northern European extraction.  In fact so common in certain areas, it is called the Celtic Curse.

One in 9 of the general population carry one hemochromatosis gene.

One in 6 from Celtic ancestry carry one hemochromatosis gene.

Hemochromatosis is Canada’s most common genetic disease, with 1 in 300 having both mutated genes that cause the disorder.  In those with Irish roots, the ratio jumps to one in 83, thus the name “The Celtic Curse”.

Diagnoses is done with a simple blood test, unlike 10 years ago when a liver biopsy was required.

Fortunately Hemochromatosis can be treated under a doctor’s care with regular removal of blood (a  procedure called phlebotomy) to remove the excess iron.   As the body makes new blood cells to replace those lost during the phlebotomy, iron is pulled out from storage in the organs, tissues and joints, bringing the iron levels down to safe levels.

Please talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any of the symptoms and tell others about this disease. Undiagnosed and untreated hemochromatosis can lead to liver disease and cancer, heart failure, diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease.

Reference: Canadian Hemochromatosis Society newsletter “Iron Filings”.  For more information on hemochromatosis, go to their website www.toomuchiron.ca

Note – This post  is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice.  Please talk to your doctor for more information.