Blood donation and its health benefits

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Photo by LuAnn Hunt on Unsplash

Written by Dr. Shyam Sundar Gupta, PhD, Medically Reviewed by Dr. Ajay Kumar Tiwari, MD (Ay.)

Blood is involved in supplying nutrients and oxygen to the body cells and removing the body waste products away. Blood donations are a good habit of saving someone’s lives. It also gives happiness and health benefits. Every year World Blood Donation Day is organized by WHO to motivate others for blood donation. There are some surprising health benefits of blood donation to others. They are

Getting free wellness check-up

WHO recommends that all donated blood samples should be screened for confirmation of infection before releasing the blood and its components for manufacturing or clinical use. All blood donation samples must be screened for HIV, syphilis and hepatitis B and C.
The donated blood samples should also be confirmed testing for ABO and RhD to make sure the compatibility and safety of the transfusion of the patient (1).

Increasing the antioxidant potential

Blood donation removes oxidants and decreases oxidative stress by elevating antioxidant enzyme such as superoxide dismutase (2).

Reducing the iron toxicity of body organs
Excess iron produces toxicity of organs through the production of reactive oxygen species. No mechanism is active for excretion excess iron from the body. Excess iron causes organ damage in heart, liver, thyroid, pancreas and the central nervous system due to the production of excess reactive oxygen species (3). Regular and repeat blood donation may cause iron loss in blood donors. Iron deficiency is frequently seen in regular blood donors (4).

Reducing the risk of Myocardial Infarction
High body iron storage is a risk factor for acute myocardial infarction. Blood donation reduces the risk by loss of body iron stores. The new erythrocytes are produced quickly to replace the lost ones in blood donors. This process consumes excess iron and reduces serum ferritin concentration. Therefore on the average the circulating red blood cells are younger after a blood donation. The younger erythrocytes leak both ferritin-bound and other chelated iron less than older red blood cells (5).

Reducing the risk of hemochromatosis

In patients with Hereditary Hemochromatosis, iron absorption is increased throughout life may induce iron deposition and damage to multiple tissues and organs (parenchymal cells of the liver, heart, endocrine organs, and joints).  If untreated, this disease may cause fibrotic liver disease, hepatocellular cancer, cirrhosis, cardiomyopathy, destructive osteoarthritis, diabetes mellitus, diffuse skin pigmentation and sexual dysfunction due to hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism. Fatigue, impotence, and arthritis are the three most common symptoms. Phlebotomy therapy (blood donation) has been applied for treatment for Hereditary Hemochromatosis patients (6). 

Decreasing the risk of cancer

Higher iron may induce the risk of some cancers. The free iron from iron complexes may produce the cancer promoter, lipoperoxides. Iron overload happens when total body iron is greater than 5 g and it causes risk of cancer of breast, colorectal, pancreatic, liver and prostate. There are some investigations suggesting that blood donation may decrease the risk of cancer due to loss body iron stores (7).

Happiness and boosting the immune system

Each and every blood donor feels very happy due to saving someone’s life. Happiness is a tonic for physical and mental health. Some investigations have shown that happiness decreases the production of the stress hormone and boost the immune system.

Note: Please consult your family doctor before applying any health tips of Amrit Health Tips website (www.amrithealthtips.com).

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