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Message from Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health

Hemochromatosis Month - May 2009

Hemochromatosis month is an opportunity for Canadians to learn more about this disease. Early discovery can prevent irreversible complications and allow affected individuals to enjoy a full and healthy life.

Hemochromatosis is the most common form of iron overload disease. It causes the body to absorb and store more iron than it needs. The extra iron build-up can eventually cause the liver, heart and pancreas to fail.

Although all ethnic groups are affected, hemochromatosis primarily impacts Canadians of European origin. The main cause of hemochromatosis is a gene mutation, where only those who inherit the faulty genes from both parents are at risk of developing the disease.

For most of those affected, symptoms like chronic fatigue, depression, joint pain and arthritis, skin discolouration (bronzing or greying), thyroid problems and irregular heartbeat become apparent during middle age.

Fortunately, hemochromatosis can be prevented and managed successfully, especially when people are aware of and informed about the disease.

Information, support and treatment are all available. The Government of Canada recognizes the roles that organizations like the Canadian Hemochromatosis Society play in raising awareness of this disorder. For more information on what the Next link will take you to another Web site Canadian Hemochromatosis Society is doing, I would encourage you to see their website.

Leona Aglukkaq
Minister of Health
Government of Canada