Genetic disorder is topic of discussion

Hemochromatosis is the most common genetic disorder in Canada but few people know much about it.

Hemochromatosis is the most common genetic disorder in Canada but few people know much about it.

The inherited disorder causes the body to absorb up to three times the normal amount of iron. Over the years, the excess iron builds up in the vital organs, joints and tissues where it can cause a number of debilitating and potentially fatal conditions such as liver and heart disease, diabetes, impotence and arthritis.

One in nine people, mostly of Northern European descent, are carriers of the most common type hereditary hemochromatosis (HHC) and one in 300 are estimated to have the gene that puts them at risk for iron overload.

Until recently, medical professionals were taught that hemochromatosis was an extremely rare disorder, so it was not often diagnosed by medical professionals.

However, now a diagnosis can be made through a simple blood test. The current treatment is the regular removal of blood until iron levels return to normal.

The Canadian Hemochromatosis Society, based in Richmond, B.C., was established to create awareness about this disorder and its treatment.

Society executive director, Bob Rogers, will be in Vernon Tuesday for a free information session about hemochromatosis and its diagnosis, treatment and management.

The session takes place Aug. 21 at 7 p.m. at the Best Western Plus Vernon Lodge and Conference Centre at 3914-32nd St., Vernon.