Hemochromatosis, a disease caused by excess build up of iron in the body, is becoming a major cause of liver damage in India, doctors revealed. This action is genetic and the excess iron, if left untreated, can damage joints, organs and eventually prove fatal.
They said the disease though being genetic was still a matter of concern because symptoms often do not appear until a person is 40 years or above.
"Usually this is genetic but some may also acquire it through blood transfusions, certain blood problems, liver disease or binge alcoholism. Symptoms often don't appear until a person is aged 40 or older. This is because extra iron builds up slowly throughout the person's life," said Jaspreet Singh, associated with the Gasteroenterology Department of Ram Manohar Lohia hospital.
"When the levels of iron are high it leads to damaging every organ and tissue. Hemochromatosis can be treated to prevent serious problems. But without treatment, hemochromatosis will continue storing iron in the body," said Ravinder Pal Singh Malhotra, director at the city-based Health Human Clinic.
According to the doctors, not just iron but also several other habits including high cholesterol, late sleeping and late rising, skipping breakfast and stopping urine for a long duration causes liver damage.
"Many of us ditch our daily breakfast - be it due to lack of time in morning or for the sake of losing weight, but this is a very unhealthy practice. As we wake up, our energy reserve of glucose are very low and this tends to affect the proper functioning of our liver," said Malhotra.
Stating that binging on processed and packaged foods also causes liver damage.
As the human liver is very sensitive to bad diet, the fat build up in the liver induced by a sugar overload can lead to the formation of scar tissue, one of the common causes of cirrhosis, according to Malhotra.
"Unnaturally sweetened and processed foods are full of sugar and almost no dietary fibre, which is not good for the health of our liver and it should therefore be avoided as often as possible," he added.