Where we live, we house sit during the winter for various people. Some of them have high, to excessively high, iron content in their water. Concerned because of the possible negative health problems connected with iron overload in the body (Hemochromotosis, also spelled hemochromatosis in American English) I did some research on the subject.
Excess iron increases free radical formation. Iron overload in the body can lead to the rapid formation of damaging reactive oxygen metabolites, such as the hydroxyl radical and the superoxide radical. These reactive oxygen metabolites (free radicals) cause DNA damage, impaired protein synthesis, compromised cell integrity and cell proliferation that can lead to cell injury (cancer) and fibrosis.
The organs most effected by hemochromatosis are the endocrine glands (pancreas being one giving iron overload a diabetes connection), liver and heart. Because the organs listed can be directly affected, the symptoms can mimic, or cause, cirrhosis of the liver, cardiomyopathy, arthritis due to iron deposits in the joints, testicular problems in men (impotence being one), diabetes through destruction of the Islets of Langerhans which produce insulin, cancer and skin discoloration. Iron overload speeds up the aging process by promoting free radicals and the cellular damage they cause.
There are two primary causes of iron overload:
One: hereditary, known as classical and non-classical, possibly caused by mutations of certain genes which can be attributed to free radical damage, caused by side effects from other diseases and interaction with carcinogenic pollutants then passed from one generation to the next.
Two: accumulation of iron from exterior sources such as drinking water, heavy meat consumption, alcohol abuse, excessive dietary iron supplementation, raw sea food, chicken liver, beef liver and certain foods high in vitamin C, since Vitamin C increases the absorption of iron into the bloodstream.
Hemochromatosis can exhibit many of the same symptoms as lack of sufficient iron (anemia) and it’s necessary to have a blood sample or other clinical tests done to determine which it is. Without clinical tests, you may be adding iron when in fact you should be eliminating it from the bloodstream.
More information can be found by doing an Internet search using hemochromatosis (either spelling), iron overload or by selecting the following links. www.ironoverload.org www.americanhs.org/ -www.hemochromatosis.org/ digestive.niddk.nih.gov/diseases/pubs/hemochromatosis/