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Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the
Harvard Medical School

What Is It?

Hemochromatosis is a common genetic (inherited) disorder in which too much iron is absorbed from the digestive tract. This excess iron is deposited in the tissues and organs of the body, where it can become toxic and cause damage.

Hemochromatosis occurs most often in people of northern European ancestry, especially those of Scottish, Irish or English descent, and affects up to 1 in 200 people in the United States. Hemochromatosis most commonly is diagnosed in people between ages 40 and 60. In women, it usually is diagnosed after menopause.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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