Friday, April 3, 2009


Haemochromatosis is a common hereditary disease which causes the body to absorb too much iron from food. Since the human body has no way of eliminating excess iron, it builds up in the skin, eyes and organs eventually resulting in a bronzed appearance and organ failure if maintenance treatments aren't begun.

The disease is especially prevalent among Irish and other Northern European races with an incidence of 1 in 200 people.

There is no routine test for Haemochromatosis. A diagnosis is typically made after other, standard liver enzyme tests come back with abnormal levels. People experiencing diabetes, extreme fatigue, heart disease, impotence or joint disease OR who have family members diagnosed with Haemochomatosis should be directly tested for the ailment.

Haemochromatosis is not usually diagnosed until the age of 40 in men and until after menopause in women. It takes that long for the iron to build up to symptomatic levels.

The only effective treatment for Haemochromatosis is for the patient to have regular phlebotomies (blood letting). Since the iron gets stored in the blood, removing the iron rich blood forces the body to produce new, iron-weak blood. 1-4 phlebotomies per year will prevent the iron from building up to dangerous levels. The reason that women don't show symptoms until after menopause is that menstruation is an effective blood letting treatment which keeps their iron saturation low.

Since this sick is extremely treatable and rarely deadly, but since its only treatment is blood-letting, I give it a

1 on my "lethality scale" (1-10)
and a 2 on my "disturbing scale" (1-10)


  1. Thanks for featuring Haemochromatosis – we’re working to raise awareness as early treatment does save lives. Sadly by the time many people are diagnosed the iron has caused irreparable damage. Please take a look at our website for more info, particularly if you have any combination of the following symptoms
    Joint pain & arthritis (often first finger knuckle)
    Chronic Fatigue
    Abdominal pain
    Diminished sex drive
    Skin colour change
    Heart irregularity
    Insulin-dependent Diabetes (type II)
    Many thanks.
    The Haemochromatosis Society

  2. Hi

    Also thanks for this information

    You might also be interested in the results of our research blog