Hemochromatosis Screening Awareness Month

Hemochromatosis is an inherited disorder of excessive body accumulation of iron. It is common among the white population, affecting approximately 1 in 400 individuals of European ancestry. Hemochromatosis patients are believed to absorb excessive amounts of iron from the diet. Since the human body has limited ways of eliminating the absorbed iron, the iron accumulates over time in the liver, bone marrow, pancreas, skin, and testicles. This accumulation of iron in these organs causes them to function poorly.

Patients with early hemochromatosis have no symptoms, and are unaware of their condition. The disease may then be discovered when elevated iron blood levels are noted by routine blood testing. In males, symptoms may not appear until 40-50 years of age. Iron deposits in the skin cause darkening of the skin. Since females lose iron through menstrual blood loss, they develop organ damage from iron accumulation 15- 20 years later than men on average.

For more in-depth information about hemochromatosis, please read the following articles:


Last Editorial Review: 7/7/2004