Is it Hepatitis C or Iron Toxicity?
E-mail to a friend
By Joseph Mercola, D. O.
I recently had a patient visit me from Ohio with a remarkable story that needs to be shared, as it will likely save a number of peopleâ€™s lives.
This person is a 53-year-old healthy male who had absolutely no symptoms. He was the picture of health and from looking at him you would never believe he had any health problems. However, later we wound find out that he was rusting on the inside and had massive amounts of free radical damage.
Through a routine physical examination, his local traditional doctor found that he had elevated liver enzymes. So a hepatitis panel was drawn and he was found to have hepatitis C. He was not content with the traditional recommendations of going on Interferon as a treatment, so he visited my Web site and learned that high iron levels are frequently a major factor in most cases of hepatitis. This is where the story gets interesting.
He asked the doctors to check his iron level, but they basically laughed at him and refused until he persisted. The doctors ran a serum iron level and that came back only on the high side of normal. However, he had read my article on how to properly diagnose iron overload so he further insisted that they run the correct test to screen for iron overload, which was a serum ferritin level. This came back elevated, but they still refused to consider that this was contributing to his problem.
Itâ€™s not bad enough to be ignorant, which the vast majority of traditional medical doctors are, but they donâ€™t have a clue about the real cause of disease. Instead, they focus their energy on diagnosing symptoms and then learning all about Band-Aid drug and surgical solutions.
The factor that annoys me more and more is that most of them compound their ignorance with arrogance. This is a potentially lethal combination for the patient. The doctors refuse to consider any other options outside of those their limited perspective allows them to see.
That is exactly what happened here, and if this person had relied on and trusted their recommendations he would likely be dead in a few short years with the â€œconvenientâ€ diagnosis of hepatitis C, rather than the correct diagnosis of death due to doctor ignorance.
Doctors are the leading cause of death in this country because of their documented mistakes, but believe me, that is only the tiniest tip of the iceberg. They are responsible for far more deaths from their ignorance of basic concepts. Iron overload is certainly one of them, but a lack of appreciation of the influence of insulin on health is another.
When I finally drew this manâ€™s ferritin level in my office it was 1000--the second highest I have ever seen. A good number is 50. Anything above 100 should be treated, and anything above 300 to 400 is normally considered to be a problem by traditional doctors. So let me provide further expansion on the relationship between hepatitis C and iron toxicity.
First it is important to gain some perspective on hepatitis C. One study on the costs of hepatitis C provides a proper perspective, which I list below. You can also review the CDCâ€™s hepatitis C information for further information.
Cost & Incidence of Hepatitis C Infection
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) cost the United States about $5.46 billion in 1997. The estimate puts the cost of HCV on par with the national costs of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis, two other chronic disorders.
The hepatitis C virus causes inflammation of the liver and is the most common chronic blood-borne infection in the United States. The virus can be spread by sex with an infected person, transfusion of infected blood or contaminated needles. HCV is the most common cause of liver transplantation in the United States, the study notes.
The investigators, from the University of California at Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, believe that the cost of HCV infection justifies requests for increased funding to expand efforts directed at prevention, screening, treatment and research.
Although HCV infection is not as costly as HIV infection, which in 1992 was estimated to cost $30 billion, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that:
HCV-related mortality could triple within the next 10 to 20 years.
According to the report, HCV infection that results in chronic liver disease accounts for about 92 percent of the costs while infection that leads to primary liver cancer accounts for the remaining eight percent of costs.
How to Properly Diagnose Iron Overload
Iron overload, or hemochromatosis, is actually the most common inherited disease. You can find out all the technical details from reading my article on how to diagnose iron overload.
Iron has been known to be associated with infection for 30 years.   It appears that iron chelators have great potential to become an important tool for fighting bacterial and viral infections. When excess iron is present, the bodyâ€™s normal antibacterial mechanisms become severely compromised.  
I am certain that high iron levels are what contributed to this person coming down with hepatitis C. Was the solution for him interferon? Absolutely not. The interferon itself may have killed him. It in no way, shape or form addressed the problem of excess iron, which was causing severe damage in his liver and creating massive amounts of free radicals.
Treatment for Iron Toxicity
If you were to listen to traditional medicine the only solution for iron overload is to donate a pint of blood every two weeks. This is not a very effective solution and may require many years before it works as up to 50 therapeutic phlebotomies may be necessary.
Measuring iron levels is a very important part of optimizing your health. However, simply measuring serum iron, as I said earlier, is a poor way to do this. Frequently the serum iron will be normal. The most useful of the indirect measures of iron status in the body is through a measure of the serum ferritin level in conjunction with a total iron binding level.
If you find elevated serum ferritin levels, you do not have to perform therapeutic phlebotomies. A simple extract from rice bran called phytic acid, or IP6, can serve as a very effective form of iron chelation that is non-toxic, inexpensive and can be done without a prescription.
Tsuno Food & Rice Company of Wakayama, Japan is the only manufacturer of IP6 in the world; any brand you purchase would come from this company. Since it is all the same product, the least expensive brand is probably the best one to choose, and Jarrow seems to have the best prices.
Iron chelators have also been used in the treatment of one of the most common infections in the world, malaria. Over 200 million people are infected every year with the malaria parasite, and over 1 million die from the infection. IP6 was used over 15 years ago to treat malaria, but there is a lack of recent trials on its use. This may be because IP6 only became commercially available in 1998.