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August 1959

Idiopathic Hemochromatosis in a Thirty-Nine-Year-Old Woman

Author Affiliations

North Hollywood, Calif.

AMA Arch Intern Med. 1959;104(2):311-312. doi:10.1001/archinte.1959.00270080137018

The commonly accepted concept of idiopathic hemochromatosis is that it is primarily a defect of the intestinal mucosal barrier to excess iron absorption. This results in slowly increasing body stores of this element, eventually leading to fibrosis in the liver, pancreas, heart, and other organs. The well-known decreased incidence of this condition in females has been attributed to the protective effect of menstrual bleeding and iron loss in pregnancy and lactation. Finch and Finch reviewed the existing literature of this disease in 1955, summarizing the findings in 787 patients. They noted its occurrence in only eight women less than 40 years of age and mentioned that in approximately 50% of affected women a history of decreased or absent menstrual flow was recorded.

In view of these facts, a case of hemochromatosis occurring in a 39-year-old woman with a history of menorrhagia is considered of sufficient interest to justify reporting.