Digestive System Home > Hemochromatosis and Who It Affects
Hereditary hemochromatosis is one of the most common genetic disorders in the United States. It most often affects Caucasians of Northern European descent, although other ethnic groups are also affected.
About 5 people in 1,000 (0.5 percent) of the U.S. Caucasian population carry two copies of the hemochromatosis gene and are susceptible to developing the disease. One person in 8 to 12 is a carrier of the abnormal gene. Hemochromatosis is less common in African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, and American Indians.
Although both men and women can inherit the gene defect, men are about five times more likely than women to develop symptoms of hemochromatosis. Men also tend to develop problems from the iron overload at a younger age.