Health benefits of donating blood

Health benefits of donating blood

01-16-2017

It's time to roll your sleeves and save a life - including yours.

According to the American Red Cross, every two seconds someone in the U.S. is in need of blood. While the average blood cell transfusion is approximately 3 pints, donors usually provide 1 pint of blood per donation. A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints. That's a lot of blood. No wonder we always hear about the importance of blood donation. But, did you know there are a number of health benefits for the donors as well?

Reduce harmful iron stores

According to the Mayo Clinic, one in every 200 people in the U.S. is affected by a condition called hemochromatosis that causes an iron overload. Many of us don't even know we have the condition because symptoms don't show until mid-life and overlap with other common conditions. Committed blood donors regularly eliminate excess iron. The Centers for Disease Control even recommends the removal of red blood cells as the preferred treatment for patients with excess iron in their blood.

Preserve cardiovascular health

By reducing iron in the blood cells, blood donation can also reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that participants ages 43 to 61 had fewer heart attacks and strokes when they donated blood every six months. In another study by the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers found, in a sample size of 2,682 men in Finland, those who donated blood at least once a year had an 88 percent lower risk of heart attacks than those who did not donate.

Reduce the risk cancer

Iron has also been thought to increase free-radical damage in the body and been linked to an increased risk of cancer and aging. The Miller-Keystone Blood Center says that consistent blood donation associated with lower risks of cancers including liver, lung, colon, and throat cancers due to the reduction in oxidative stress when iron is released from the bloodstream.

Additionally, in a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers followed 1,200 people split into groups of two over the course of 4 1/2 years. One group reduced their iron stores via blood donations twice a year, while the second group did not make any changes. The results of the study showed that the group of blood donors had lower iron levels, and a lower risk of cancer and mortality.

Burn calories

After the holidays, we are all looking for a simple way to kick start our diet. According to the University of California, San Diego, you can burn approximately 650 calories per donation of one pint of blood. However, blood donation should not be thought of as a weight loss plan - just a little extra motivation to give.

Free blood analysis

When you donate blood it is tested for syphilis, HIV, hepatitis, and other diseases. The American Red Cross says testing indicates whether or not you are eligible to donate based on what is found in your bloodstream. It also notes that a sample of your blood may be used now or in the future for additional tests and other medical research with your consent.

Give you a sense of pride

While there are several physical benefits to donating blood, the most powerful health benefit is arguably psychological. Donating blood means that someone (or multiple people) somewhere will receive the help they desperately need. The psychological health benefit you receive from knowing you're helping others can be just as helpful as the physical health benefit. When you roll up your sleeve and sit down in that chair, you know you're making a difference - and that makes you feel good.‚Äč

Please join us for our blood drive on Wednesday, Jan. 18, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event will be held in the Education Center (2nd floor of the Main Hospital) on the St. Mary's Medical Center Campus at 201 NW R.D. Mize Road, Blue Springs, Missouri, 64014. To donate you must be at least 17 years old (or 16 with signed parental or legal guardian consent), weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good general health on the day of donation.

If you have questions, contact Lesa Weimann at 816-655-5362 or lesa.wiemann@primehealthcare.com.

Categories: News