An inherited disease in which too much dietary iron is absorbed. Excess iron gradually accumulates in the liver, pancreas, heart, testes, and other organs. Men are more frequently affected because women regularly lose iron in menstrual blood. Loss of sex drive and a reduction in the size of the testes are often the first signs. Excess iron over a period of time causes liver enlargement and cirrhosis, and can lead to diabetes mellitus, bronzed skin coloration, cardiac arrhythmia, and, eventually, liver failure and liver cancer. Diagnosis is based on blood tests and a liver biopsy. Treatment is by regular venesection. (See also haemosiderosis.)


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