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African Iron Overload

Abstract

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NORD is very grateful to Pradyumna D. Phatak, MD, FACP, Medical Director, Lipson Cancer/Blood Center, Rochester General Hospital, and Clinical Professor of Medicine, UR School of Medicine, for assistance in the preparation of this report.

Synonyms of African Iron Overload

  • African siderosis
  • Bantu siderosis

Disorder Subdivisions

  • No subdivisions found.

General Discussion

Summary
African iron overload is a rare disorder characterized abnormally elevated levels of iron in the body. The name originates from the initial description of this entity in sub-Saharan Africa, in communities where affected individuals drink a traditional, homemade beer that contains a high amount of iron. Symptoms may vary from case to case but can include the accumulation of fibrous tissue (fibrosis) in the liver and, eventually, scarring of the liver (cirrhosis). The exact cause of African iron overload is unknown, but researchers believe that a combination of dietary and genetic factors result in the development of the disorder.

Introduction
Researches originally believed that the popular, iron-rich beer caused cases of African iron overload. However, many individuals that drank the beer did not develop the disorder and some individuals that did not drink the beer did develop it. This led researchers to speculate that a mutation of a gene or genes involved in the transport or breakdown (metabolism) of iron must play a role in the development of African iron overload. Such a gene has not yet been identified.

Organizations related to African Iron Overload

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