HEREDITARY hemochromatosis is the most
common genetic disease in Canada, with one
out of every 300 people at risk for iron overload that comes with the disease, according to
the Canadian Hemochromatosis Society.
Also known as iron overload disease,
hemochromatosis occurs when a single gene
mutation causes the body to absorb extra iron
from food without an efficient means of
excreting the excess. Over time, iron accumu-
lates in tissues and organs, and the resulting
damage causes other diseases such as diabe-
tes, arthritis, liver disease and heart disease.
The gene mutation that can cause
hemochromatosis is most common among
people whose ancestors came from Europe.
Not all people with this gene mutation
develop iron overload.
Some of the symptoms include the following and tend to occur in men between the
ages of 30 and 50 and in women over age 50:
■ Joint pain
■ Fatigue, weakness
■ Abdominal pain
■ Loss of sex drive
■ Weight loss
■ Shortness of breath
Diagnosis and treatment
Regular medical checkups may not
include tests to measure the amount of iron
in the body. For that reason, hemochromatosis may not be diagnosed in people who have
the disease. If you think you have symptoms
or if you have a close relative who has hemochromatosis, ask your health-care provider to
check the amount of iron in your blood.
Genetic testing is also an option.
Treatment consists of taking blood from
the arm, and frequency of treatment varies
from person to person. People with hemochromatosis may also be advised to stay away
from iron supplements or to change their diet
to make sure that they are not getting too
much iron. If you have this condition, talk to
your doctor or pharmacist before deciding to
reduce your iron intake, because having too
little iron is also not recommended.
Patients can expect a normal life span if
they are diagnosed and start treatment before
organ damage has begun.
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“DEPRESSION CAN BE rooted in a number of problems, and those need to be
addressed,” notes psychologist and Costco
member Gregory L. Jantz, author of
Overcoming Anxiety, Worry and Fear. “A
holistic treatment approach, which may or
may not include medication, helps people
learn techniques to manage it,” he says.
Jantz offers these tips:
Intellectual. Be aware of what you are
reading and listening to, and seek to counter
a walk around the neigh-
bourhood. Stroll through a
city park. The goals are to get
your body moving and to allow
you to focus on something other
than yourself and your sur-
roundings. Greet your neigh-
bours, stop at the park and
watch someone playing with
his dog, or cheer at a soccer
game. Intentionally open up
your focus to include the broader
world around you.
Spiritual. Take some time to
nourish your spirit. If you are a
member of a religious organization, make sure to attend services
this week. If you are not, spend
time in quiet reflection, meditation
or prayer. Intentionally engage in an
activity that replenishes and reconnects your spirit. C
any negative input with
positive influences. Try
reading an uplifting book and
setting aside time in your day to
fill yourself up intellectually
with constructive, encourag-
Relational. Think of a
person you really enjoy talking
to, someone who makes you
feel good about yourself or
who’s just fun to be around.
Plan today to spend time
with that person this week,
even if it’s just for a moment
or two. Make the effort to
verbalize your appreciation
for his or her positive presence in your day.
Physical. Physical activ-
ity is a wonderful way of pro-
moting emotional health. Take