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Iron Overload More Common Than Had Been Thought

A study has shown that hemochromatosis, an inherited disorder which causes iron overload is far more common for men than had been thought. This means that more men will go on to develop the potentially fatal disease and other complications.

Hereditary hemochromatosis causes the body to absorb up to three times the normal amount of iron. This excess iron can build up in vital organs, joints and tissues, where it can cause liver and heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and other problems.

Previous studies have shown that one in 200 people with northern European ancestry have the genetic marker for the disease, but it was never clear how many of those actually developed the illness. Some estimates have put the percentage at less than 1 percent.

But a new 12-year study tracking more than 31,000 people has found that 28.4 percent of men with the generic problem eventually develop the disease. Only 1.2 percent of women with the defective genes become ill, however.

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