Updated 03 July 2013

Iron overload: a silent killer

Iron overload often goes undetected for years, until life-threatening damage is done. And more diseases than we can imagine might be associated with it.

"Haemochromatosis: Canada's most common genetic disorder," reads a prominent search-engine result.

Although genetic haemochromatosis has been recognised for more than a century, research into this field has accelerated during the past 20 years. At the forefront of research into the specific impact on South Africans is Dr Monique Zaahl from the Department of Genetics at the University of Stellenbosch.

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Arthritis
  • Cirrhosis and enlarged liver
  • Skin inflammation/blistering
  • Diabetes type 2
  • Impotence
  • Irregular menstruation or amenorrhoea (lack of menstruation)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Frequent diarrhoea
  • Mood swings and depression
  • Irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia


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