As caregiver to my husbands mother (1999-2004) with Alzheimer’s Dementia I was at the beginning of my journey with iron overload. I guess you could say I was pretty self absorbed with my own health especially since I had also been diagnosed with breast cancer (stage 0- non invasive). When my mother in law in law passed away it was a relief since she was in a nursing home with a blank star in her eyes. Alzheimer’s is the cruelest disease for the caregivers and loved ones closest who live in the day to day watching helplessly. This article brings to the surface what I realized only after her passing. Italian heritage is not immune from the disease of hemochromatosis. This article also states Italian’s have higher incidence of homozygous or heterozygous HFE gene(s) causing the loading of iron. Translated? Italian both Northern and Southern are not immune from the known HFE alleles. To further the article also introduces the theory which Italian nationality may have a higher instance of loading and storing iron even with only one copy of the known HH genes.


In my head and heart I have known there is a genetic reason for my mother-in-law and her 7 (of 7!) siblings EACH to have passed after a confirmed diagnosis of dementia. Alzheimer’s Disease can only be diagnosed after death. We chose not to have an autopsy.

It is already understood the connection between iron deposits and dementia especially in those with H63d/H63d. The article is long, 10 pages. It does open interpretation (or reinterpretation) exactly what is considered a “Northern European” ancestry. Who should be screened for this common inherited condition? Should a full iron panel done with routinely with other lab tests? (At periodic intervals determined by a patient and physician, not by insurance companies!) having valuable information would save lives and countless dollars spent on healthcare. It is a certainty diagnosing iron overload before permanent damage (dementia) occurs will prevent needless suffering.

I am of French heritage and always joked about where did I inherit 2 copies of the defective H63d gene. (Hence my blog domain name H63d.com ) I am not Irish or of Celtic descent. In all honesty, before the advent of the internet, airplanes or even steel hulled ships each nationality has taken turns conquering each other’s lands…. on foot and by wooden boats. (as well as leaving behind genetic code in offspring) We really do not know are true ancestry until proven scientifically with a DNA test. (23andme.com)

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