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A metabolic disorder occurs when abnormal chemical reactions in the human body disrupt metabolism. When this happens, the patient may have too much of some substances, or too little of others, which are needed to stay healthy. Disorders in metabolism can be inherited, in which case they are also known as inborn errors of metabolism, or they may be acquired during your lifetime. Many metabolic disorders exist. Phenylketonuria is an example of an inherited metabolic disorder characterized by an inability to break down one of the building blocks of protein, the amino acid phenylalanine. Type I diabetes, a disease in which the pancreas does not create enough insulin to maintain balanced blood sugar levels, is a metabolic disorder of sugar metabolism. An example of a metabolic disorder affecting fat metabolism is Gaucher’s disease, which is characterized by a lack of the of the enzyme glucocerebrosidase. Metabolic disorders can also be complications of severe diseases or conditions, including liver or respiratory failure, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis), and HIV/AIDS.
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