Hemochromatosis – the most common inherited blood disorder that causes the body to absorb up to three times the normal amount of iron in the blood – when not treated will develop into liver cancer, arthritis among others.
Hemochromatosis – the most common form of iron overload disease – where the extra iron builds up in the body’s organs, thereby damaging them.
Such were the findings of researchers at The Melbourne’s Murdoch Children’s Research Institute who discovered that more than one quarter of men with hemochromatosis develop liver cancer, arthritis and other complications.
According to the researchers if the condition is untreated, 28.4 percent of men will develop disorders caused by the iron overload.
The disease can be difficult to diagnose because its early symptoms can often be attributed to other causes and the most common treatment is to remove blood.
One in every 300-400 people is affected by the disease, and it is most common in Northern European communities, especially people of Irish, Scottish, Welsh and English descent and it affects 1 in every 200 Australians.
The scientists at Melbourne’s Murdoch Children’s Research Institute say their finding suggests hemochromatosis leads to more disease than previous studies have shown.
Arthritis is not the only complication of hemachromatis, thereby reinforcing the importance of screening as early as possible and the best of treatment.
“Arthritis, chronic fatigue and liver disease can arise as a result of iron-overload,” said Associate Professor Katie Allen from the Murdoch Childrens who led the research “However these complications can be avoided by donating blood regularly.”
*Parent study, the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study (MCCS), conducted by Cancer Council Victoria and the University of Melbourne, investigates the lifestyle influences on the development of common chronic disease.
Professor Graham Giles, chief investigator of the MCCS said that one of best outcomes of the HealthIron Study was a better understanding of the genetic risk of haemochromatosis as well as the ability to evaluate long term outcomes.
“With the results of the HealthIron study, we can now more accurately assess the cost-effectiveness of population-based genetic screening programs for haemochromatosis,” said A/Professor Katie Allen, who also led a previous study into community screening, the results of which were published in top medical journal The Lancet.
Find more details from Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.