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March 10, 2009     Cape Gazette
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March 10, 2009

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Cape Gazette HEALTH & FITNESS TUESDAY, MARCH 10 - THURSDAY, MARCH 12, 2009 29 Too much iron in th, e,, system can have d er my consequences Q.: A friend of mine said his doctor told him he has hemochro- matosis. He didn't seem worried. I didn't want to ask, but is it seri- ous? A.: Every once in a while I get a question that surprises me completely. Hemochromatosis? I thought it sounded like a rare condition in a small subculture. I couldn't have been more wrong. Hemochr0matosis (HE-mo- kro-ma-TO-sis) is an inherited disease that makes your body build up too much iron, a miner- al in many of the foods we eat. Hemochromatosis - also known as iron overload disease - is one of the most common genetic disorders in the United States. About 1 million people in the country have the disease. With early diagnosis and treatment, nearly all the prob- lems of hereditary hemochro- matosis can be prevented. The human body normally ab- sorbs about 10 percent of the iron it ingests. Hemochromato- sis causes you to absorb more iron than you need. The body stores the extra iron, particularly in the skin, heart, liver, pancreas and joints. If you don't treat hemochro- matosis, it can be fatal. The usual treatment for he- mochromatosis is to remove some blood. The process is sim- ilar to donating blood. Medicine is used, too, to remove iron from your body. Changes in your diet are often recommended. Early symptoms of hemochro- matosis may include fatigue, joint and abdominal pain, and loss of libido. Later symptoms can include arthritis, liver dis- ease, diabetes, heart abnormali- ties and skin discoloration. Not everyone who has he- mochromatosis has symptoms. Some people don't suffer from complications. Others die from the disease. There are several types ofhe- mochromatosis. Type I is the most common form of the disor- der. The other types ofhe- mochromatosis are considered rare, Hemochromatosis is most common in Caucasians of north- ern European descent. The dis- ease is uncommon in African- Americans, Hispanics, Asians and Native Americans. Hemochromatosis is more common in men than in women, and older people are more likely to develop the disease. Men get hemochromatosis between the ages of 40 and 60; women usual- ly develop symptoms after menopause. While a defect in your genes causes hemochromatosis, you can get it from another disease that creates an iron overload. The inherited form is called pri- mary hemochromatosis. The form caused by another disease is secondary hemochromatosis. Risk factors for hemochro- matosis include alcoholism and a family history of heart attack, liver disease, diabetes, arthritis and erectile dysfunction. If you have hemochromatosis, the amount of iron in your body may be too high even though the Diabetes insulin pump group meets Those who wear an insulin pump or are interested in learning about wearing a pump are welcome at the diabetes insulin pump sup- port group. The group provides an opportunity to meet others and share concerns with others who also live with diabetes. Beebe Med- ical Center's certified diabetes educators will be available to answer questions. For details, call 947-2500. i!i ( i ! level of iron in your blood is normal. To diagnose hemochro- matosis, doctors must test to see how much iron is in your body. Blood relatives of people with hemochromatosis may be at risk for the disease. Ask your doctor if your relatives should have their iron levels checked. Fred Cicetti is a first-class geezer over 60 who writes a health column for senior citizens. Email questions to or visit It's the perfect time to have afresh start and make lasting changes. Quit Smoking, Reduce Stress, Lose Weight, Overcome Fears and More. Nancy Rothner Clinical Itypnotherapist For a free consultation call 302-644-2400 www.CoastalHypnotherapy, com Red 29; O