Haemochromatosis is a genetic disorder causing the body to absorb an excessive amount of iron from the diet.
As a result of the genetic condition, iron can build up in the body to toxic levels. This is termed iron overload and is very damaging. Iron is deposited in various organs – mainly the liver, but also the pancreas, heart, endocrine glands, and joints.
Usually the liver stores a small amount of iron for the essential purpose of providing new red blood cells with iron (vital for health), however when excessive quantities of iron are stored in the liver it becomes damaged.
For a long time it was believed that the disorder was rare, so GH was seldom considered as a possible diagnosis. However, recent surveys suggest as many as 1 in 200 northern european people could carry the haemochromatosis gene. therefore GH is now recognised as being one of the most common genetic disorders.