How does alcohol abuse affect the progression of hemochromatosis?

Updated: Apr 03, 2017
  • Author: Andrea Duchini, MD; Chief Editor: Praveen K Roy, MD, AGAF  more...
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Alcohol abuse may accelerate disease progression. Ethanol sometimes increases iron absorption, and certain alcoholic drinks, especially red wine, contain relatively high concentrations of iron. Activity of hydroxyl free radicals is elevated by iron-containing diets combined with alcohol intake, and this is implicated in hepatocarcinogenesis. [93] Ingestion of 30 g or more of ethanol daily potentiates hepatic injury due to iron overload and increases the relative risk for primary liver cancer in persons with cirrhosis. Patients with evidence of hepatic injury should consume little or no ethanol. Other patients should consume ethanol in moderation.

Studies performed on healthy subjects living in the Spanish-Mediterranean coast showed that some genotypes (C282Y heterozygote, H63D heterozygote, and homozygote, as well as H63D/S63C compound heterozygote) together with alcohol and iron intake increased indicators of iron status; however, calcium intake decreased them. [94] These effects were not observed in S63C heterozygotes. [94]

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