31.05.2018 Natural Health

Too Much Iron

It may surprise many people that Australia’s most common genetic disorder is iron overload, or haemochromatosis.

Although it is a serious condition that can cause liver cirrhosis, liver cancer, arthritis and diabetes, it is still widely under-diagnosed.

Increasing awareness of the disorder which results from the incorrect uptake, processing and storage of dietary iron within the body is the aim of World Haemochromatosis Week in early June. Early diagnosis is seen as crucial for better health outcomes for individuals as well as huge savings for a country’s health care system.

Through international collaboration, a task force of haemochromatosis experts has agreed upon an objective, simple and practical set of therapeutic recommendations for managing hereditary haemochromatosis, which are applicable around the globe.

Dr Dianne Prince, President of Haemochromatosis Australia welcomes this landmark guideline:

“About one in 200 people of European origin have the genetic predisposition for haemochromatosis and additionally, one in seven people are carriers of the gene that causes it.”

“Haemochromatosis is under-diagnosed, partly because public awareness of the condition is low but also because its symptoms, including fatigue, depression and joint pain, are confused with a range of other illnesses,” said Dr Prince.

“When undetected and untreated, iron overload can result in premature death.”

Although haemochromatosis is detected by simple blood tests, support groups around the world continue to hear familiar stories from people with significant health problems caused by a late diagnosis. Recent research by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) has shown that haemochromatosis should be treated even when iron stores are only mildly elevated.‘

The tragedy is that so many people suffer harm unnecessarily when timely management of their condition is simple, safe and effective. Haemochromatosis can easily be managed through blood donations which remove iron from the body and a diagnosis of haemochromatosis should be no barrier to a normal life.

FAST FACTS

  • Untreated haemochromatosis can cause liver cirrhosis, liver cancer, arthritis and diabetes.
  • Most common genetic disorder in Australia.
  • Initial tests for haemochromatosis are simple blood tests called “iron studies” that can be ordered by your doctor.
  • Treatment is simple, safe and effective. This consists of regular removal of blood, known as a venesection. The procedure is the same as for blood donors.

For more information visit www.haemochromatosis.org.au

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