Toxicity

Iron toxicity causes severe organ damage and death. The most pronounced effects are haemorrhagic necrosis of the gastrointestinal tract, which manifests as vomiting, bloody diarrhoea and hepatotoxicity.

Conditions that increase risk of toxicity include:

• Haemochromatosis (iron overload) — excess storage of iron in the body, which can cause organ and tissue damage (especially liver and heart) and an increased risk for hepatic carcinoma. It may be caused by an excessive oral intake, a genetic defect that causes the body to absorb more iron than normal, or repeated blood transfusions.

• Haemosiderosis — iron overload without tissue damage.

• Iron-loading anaemias — thalassaemia and sideroblastic anaemia.

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