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Iron metabolism and its disorders 

Iron metabolism and its disorders
Chapter:
Iron metabolism and its disorders
Author(s):

Timothy M. Cox

, and John B. Porter

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198746690.003.0534
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date: 07 March 2021

Iron deficiency and iron storage disease—the latter principally due to inherited and acquired anaemias such as thalassemia—are disorders of massive clinical significance across the globe. Iron deficiency is the commonest cause of anaemia, affecting about 1 billion people, and about 0.75 million people have thalassaemia. Largely neglected by health services in rich and resource-poor countries alike, disorders of iron metabolism, whether inherited, nutritional, or otherwise, represent a long-standing public health challenge. Improved screening methods for detection, diagnosis, and appropriate supplementation—as well as genetic counselling—can offer a great deal to relieve the burden in stricken communities. Advances in chelation therapy have improved the survival of patients with iron-loading anaemias and transfusion-related haemochromatosis, and better understanding of the molecular pathophysiology of iron homeostasis now offers the prospect of definitive therapies to control pathological erythropoiesis and the inappropriate drive to acquire lethal quantities of toxic iron.

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