How prevalent is diabetes mellitus (DM) in hemochromatosis?

Updated: Apr 03, 2017
  • Author: Andrea Duchini, MD; Chief Editor: Praveen K Roy, MD, AGAF  more...
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Diabetes, often requiring insulin therapy, occurs due to progressive iron accumulation in the pancreas. The damage appears to be relatively selective for the pancreatic beta cells. Most patients with hemochromatotic diabetes have other signs of hemochromatosis, such as liver disease or skin pigmentation.

Diabetes mellitus can be seen in 30-60% of patients with hereditary hemochromatosis; therefore, polyuria, polydipsia, and high blood and urine glucose levels may be found. In one study, the prevalence of diabetes mellitus was 21.9% in patients with hereditary hemochromatosis. [65] The type of mutations for hereditary hemochromatosis, ferritin level, or the presence of cirrhosis were not predictive for diabetes mellitus development. In the majority patients, the insulin requirements or glucose level was not influenced by iron depletion. [65]

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