Previously published in Examiner
Part 8 of the vampire series
Most of the porphyrias are inherited. The gene can be passed on by one parent or both parents. Other causes are triggered by the environment and include:
exposure to the sun
birth control pills
too much iron in the body
emotional and physical stress
The worst environmental trigger for prophyria caused 4,000 people to develop the disease of which many died in Turkey in the 1950’s when they ate grain that was sprayed with a fungicide called hexachlorobenzene.
Symptoms of prophyria
sensitivity to the sun
pain in the chest, back, limbs or abdomen
numbness or tinkling sensation
or no signs at all
Diagnosis for prophyria can be confusing because the symptoms are similar to many other diseases. Generally speaking the disease is diagnosed by blood, urine and stool samples.
Treatment for prophyria
The mainstay treatment is blood or heme transfusions. Again the vampire stories could have surfaced because prophyria sufferers can drink blood to get the relief they need, though this is not a medical treatment per se. Other treatments include eliminating iron from the blood or medications. The treatment depends largely on the type of prophyria. Patients who have severe attacks may require hospitalization.
The Montreal connection with the Twilight (Vampire series)
Montreal-born actress Rachelle Lefèvre landed a key role in the Twilight movie. She says she always had a passion for vampires.
The Départment de médecine du travail et hygiène du milieu, Faculté de médecine, Université de Montréal, C.P. 6128, Succursale A, Montréal, Québec, H3C 3J7, Canada did a study on rats do study prophyria . It was published in Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology
Volume 145, Issue 1, July 1997, Pages 23-33.