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Iron Overload Disease Affects Many in North Central W.Va.
Written by Whitney Wetzel
Last updated on February 20, 2013 @ 7:44PM
Created on February 20, 2013 @ 6:13PM
 
A common genetic disease that affects the health of both men and women is a disease most people probably have never even heard of before.

It's called hemocromatosis, which means there's too much iron in the body. Dr. Sharon Brescoach, assistant professor of journalism at Fairmont State University, knows about the disease all too well. That's because her husband, Lewis, struggled with the disease for years, but died from it last March at the age of 56.
 
Dr. Brescoach said iron overload affects many people who live in the Appalachian region, who have European backgrounds. Both parents must have the recessive gene for the disease to pass it on to their children. It typically affects more men than women.
 
Some of the main symptoms include having a high level of iron in the body and coppered colored skin. The disease attacks the entire body, but mostly affects the pancreas and liver. Many people who have the disease often have liver transplants.
 
Those who exhibit symptoms should get a genetic test done. The iron disease can be treated by having a phlebotomy.
 
"It's just not a disease that people pay much attention to. Like I said, there are a lot of people in this region that have it, or may have it and aren't aware of it. So, I just want to create some awareness," said Dr. Sharon Brescoach.

Dr. Brescoach has started a Facebook group for those interested in bringing more awareness about hemocromatosis. If you would like to contact her, e-mail wvirondiseaseinfo@gmail.com

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