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Hemochromatosis and Diabetes

Men versus Women

Although both men and women can inherit the hemochromatosis gene, men are much more likely to be diagnosed with the effects of hemochromatosis than women, and men also tend to develop problems from the excess iron at a younger age.

The most likely explanation for the difference: menstruation and childbirth. Because women regularly lose a significant amount of blood every month until menopause, as well as during childbirth, they consequently lose a significant amount of iron associated with that blood. For women who are homozygous for hemochromatosis, the blood loss appears to be just enough to keep the hemochromatosis asymptomatic until well after menopause.