Risk factorsBy Mayo Clinic staff
Factors that increase your risk of hereditary hemochromatosis include:
- Having 2 copies of a mutated HFE gene. This is the greatest risk factor for hereditary hemochromatosis.
- Family history. If you have a first-degree relative — a parent or sibling — with hemochromatosis, you're more likely to develop the disease. If you have a family history of alcoholism, heart attacks, diabetes, liver disease, arthritis or impotence, your risk of hemochromatosis is greater.
- Ethnicity. People of Northern European descent are more prone to hereditary hemochromatosis than are people of other ethnic backgrounds. Hemochromatosis is less common in African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans.
- Being a man. Men are more likely to develop signs and symptoms of hemochromatosis at an earlier age. Because women lose iron through menstruation and pregnancy, they tend to store less of the mineral than men do. After menopause or a hysterectomy, the risk for women increases.
- AskMayoExpert. Hereditary hemochromatosis. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2012.
- Bacon BR, et al. Diagnosis and management of hemochromatosis: 2011 Practice Guideline by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases. Hepatology. 2011;54:328.
- What is hemochromatosis? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hemo/. Accessed Nov. 7, 2012.
- Eng KG, et al. Natural history and management of HFE-Hemochromatosis. Seminars in Liver Disease. 2011;31:293.
- Hemochromatosis. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/hemochromatosis/index.htm. Accessed Nov. 12, 2012.
- Poterucha JJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 29, 2012.