Iron is is essential for blood formation but is one of the few minerals that cannot be eliminated (other than by blood loss). At toxic levels iron is an oxidizing agent that can increase the risk of cancer and damage the heart and the arteries. Repeated blood transfusions, iron medication and extreme dietary iron may result in iron damage to the body.
Hereditary haemochromatosis is a disorder of iron metabolism in which dietary iron absorption exceeds body needs. The iron accumulates in organs and tissue. If not diagnosed and treated, the accumulating iron may result in one or more complications such as liver enlargement, heart irregularities and failure, diabetes and other hormonal deficiencies and arthritis.
Approximately, 1.5 million persons in the USA are affected by iron overload diseases, which are primarily caused by hereditary hemochromatosis, the most common genetic disorder.
Haemochromatosis is one of the most common abnormal genes. It is recessively inherited, with one out of 8 people being a carrier (with one gene but with normal metabolism) and one in 200 having both genes - this person has the potential for full blown hemochromatosis at some point during his/her life, childhood to adulthood.