Iron overload can occur in people of any age, any ethnicity, or gender; iron overload is a condition of excess too much iron in the body. Excess iron in vital organs, even in mild cases of iron overload, increases the risk for liver disease cirrhosis, cancer, heart failure, diabetes mellitus, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, metabolic syndrome, hypothyroidism, hypogonadism, numerous symptoms and in some cases premature death. Iron overload can be inherited genetic or acquired by receiving numerous blood transfusions, getting iron shots or injections, or consuming high levels of supplemental iron. Some of the genetic disorders that result in iron overload include are hereditary hemochromatosis all types, African iron overload, sickle cell disease, thalassemia, X-linked sideroblastic anemia, enzyme deficiencies pyruvate kinase; glucosephosphate dehydrogenase and very rare protein transport disorders aceruloplasminemia and atransferrinemia. None of these conditions should be confused with polycythemia vera PV, which is not an iron disorder, but a condition where the bone marrow produces too many blood cells red, white and platelet. People with PV have abnormally high hemoglobin and are at risk for a stroke and progressing to acute myelogenous leukemia AML. Part of the therapy for PV is phlebotomy. The treatment for iron overload is iron reduction therapy. In some situations the physician may use a combination of these two therapies.
Winchester Hospital was the first community hospital in the state to achieve Magnet designation, recognition for nursing excellence. The main form of treatment for hemochromatosis is therapeutic phlebotomy, which involves having a certain amount of blood drawn to remove the excess iron from the body. Red blood cells become smaller and contain less hemoglobin. While the risk of cancer from too much iron is uncertain except in people with hemochromatosis, the known links between high levels of red meat consumption and cancers of the colon and prostate are highly suggestive of an increased risk associated with excessive consumption of heme iron. This therapy also gets rid of toxins in the body, ideally before they have time to do any lasting damage. In some cases, this can lead to more serious conditions like liver disease or heart failure. People with PV have abnormally high hemoglobin and are at risk for a stroke and progressing to acute myelogenous leukemia AML. Iron is essential in most biological systems in the body and is especially important for the bloodstream. Iron deficiency is rare in men and postmenopausal women, and most should avoid supplements containing iron to reduce the risk of organ damage from too much iron.
In decades past, many parents worried that children who were picky eaters would develop iron-deficiency anemia. Now baby foods, infant formula and many other child-friendly foods, like breakfast cereals, breads, rice and pasta, are fortified with iron. Today iron deficiency is more likely in infants who are exclusively breast-fed, young children who consume too much milk, menstruating and pregnant women, vegans and strict vegetarians, and people who take medications that cause internal bleeding or interfere with iron absorption. These days, more attention is being paid to the opposite problem: iron overload, which studies indicate can damage internal organs and may increase the risk of diabetes, heart attack and cancer, particularly in older people. In examining more than 1, white Americans ages 67 to 96 participating in the Framingham Heart Study, researchers found that only about 3 percent had deficient levels of iron in their blood or stored in their bodies, but 13 percent had levels considered too high. Iron is an essential part of the proteins that transport oxygen in the body. Smaller amounts are found in myoglobin, the protein that supplies oxygen to muscles, and in enzymes needed for various biochemical reactions.