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Trusted local news leader for Kingman, Arizona & Mohave County
9:59 PM Thu, Nov. 15th

Guest Column: Help is available for genetic, serious liver condition

What is hemochromatosis? It is a genetic blood disorder that causes the liver to hold iron and causes cellular damage.

Until two months ago, when my 71-year-old husband was diagnosed with hemochromatosis and end stage cirrhosis/liver failure, we had never heard of the disease.

I'm writing to inform area residents about this awful disease that can be treated early in life to prevent other life-taking diseases. People of Anglo Celtic, Irish, Nordic, British Isles and western European origin are affected. It affects as many as 1 in 200 caucasians. Of these people's groups, one out of 10 will be carriers and one out of every 200-300 will have the disease and never be diagnosed.

Until about 10 years ago, there was not a reliable test proving a person had this condition. You are born with this disease and with proper treatment can prevent disorders of the thyroid, heart, liver, RA arthritis, diabetes, cirrhosis, liver cancer and tremors (just to name a few of the things hemochromatosis causes with the buildup of iron).

This condition affects men more than women and is grossly under-diagnosed. Even though my husband's grandfather, father, uncle and sister all died from cirrhosis/liver failure, and we informed every doctor he has seen of that information, not one until Dr. Lee Collins made the connection to hemochromatosis.

All my husband's relatives, except for the grandfather, did not drink, so the doctors they were seeing kept pushing that they must have had hepatitis which caused the cirrhosis and now we know was fantasy.

The Internet has many sites with lots of information. Doctors treat the symptoms hemochromatosis cause instead of looking into the causes of the diseases.

If in standard blood tests, the liver enzymes are consistently out of normal range year after year (my husband's were for 52 years), ask to have the genetic test done to see if you have hemochromatosis. Our sons are all undergoing these tests now.

If someone suspects they have this condition, there are a few things that are very important to do to help feel better. Do not cook in cast iron pans or take vitamins with C or iron in them (vitamin C causes the liver to hold iron). Do not eat any red meat, dairy, bread or cold cereals (they are fortified with iron during processing) or any product containing soy. And finally, eat no salt, which means most processed or convenience foods.

There are more things to avoid, but these are the ones that really wreak havoc in the blood.

So now that the American diet has been blown out of the water, what can be eaten? Mostly vegetables and fruits (keep the citrus intake low), small amounts of white fish and poultry once in a while, brown rice, quinoa, olive or coconut oils only, old fashioned oats, almond or coconut milk. It goes back to cooking fresh from scratch in glass or stainless steel cookware, no nuking in plastic.

I pray this information may help others who are unaware they may have this blood disease.