An unhealthy bronze

Once known as "bronze diabetes" because of the darkened skin tones and hyperglycemia common among sufferers, hemochromatosis is much more common than most caregivers think.

Recent research shows it is present in about one in 250 Americans, mostly striking Caucasians of northern European descent. Among these populations, varying estimates of prevalence range from .2% to .5%, although it has been found in virtually every ethnic and racial group. In diabetics, the prevalence of hemochromatosis may be 1% or even higher, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.