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Hemochromatosis is an inherited disorder that causes the body to absorb and store too much iron It is the most common form of iron overload disease The extra iron builds up in the organs and can cause organ failure if not treated The greatest amount of iron is found in red meat and iron fortified bread and cereal In the body iron becomes part of hemoglobin which is a molecule in the blood that transports oxygen from the lungs to all body tissues Most people absorb 10 percent of the iron contained in the food they eat to meet the bodys needs People with this disorder absorb more than they need and the extra iron is stored in body tissues like the liver heart and pancreas because body has no way to get rid of it Genetic hemochromatosis is associated with a defect a gene called HFE which regulates the amount of iron absorbed from food Two important mutations in HFE are C282Y and H63D When C282Y is inherited from both parents iron is over absorbed from the diet causing this disorder H63D causes little increase in iron absorption but a person with C282Y from one parent and H63D from another parent will never cause the disorder This disorder is present at birth but symptoms dont appear until adulthood Some symptoms include joint pain lack of energy fatigue abdominal pain loss of sex drive and heart problems They occur in men from 30 to 50 years of age and in women over age 50 The accumulation of iron in body tissues can cause arthritis liver disease cirrhosis cancer damage to the pancreas impotence early menopause abnormal pigmentation thyroid deficiency and damage to the adrenal gland A medical history physical examination and routine blood test help rule out other conditions that be causing the symptoms Blood tests are used to determine whether the amount of iron stored in the body is too much This disorder is
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