You may donate blood because it feels like the right thing to do. But, is donating blood good for you?
There is research that suggests that along with helping people in need, giving blood may also have health benefits for the donor.
What The Research Says
Over the past few years, a series of medical studies have been published documenting heart health among people who donate blood versus those who don’t.
According to some of these studies, people who donate blood are actually at a lower risk for heart attack, diabetes and other medical conditions than non-donors.
One particular study by Charite-University Medical Centre in Berlin shows that blood donations can reduce cardiovascular risk in obese patients.
A separate study in Finland determined that men who donated blood had an 88% reduced risk of heart attack than non-blood donors.
How could that be?
Why Giving Blood May Be Good For You
Less Blood May be Good For Your Heart
Dr. Gregory Sloop, an advocate of blood donations for health benefits, has stated that the probable explanation for this is a “reduced blood viscosity” (thickness) resulting directly from a donation. This reduced blood pressure makes it easier for the heart to pump blood.
Donating Blood can Reduce Iron Levels
Donating a pint of blood significantly reduces iron levels. Iron, while an essential mineral for blood to carry oxygen, can be toxic in large quantities.
Iron overload can cause serious medical problems, and genetic disorders that cause too much iron absorption are believed to affect as many as 5 in every 1,000 white Americans.
Men store iron in their bloodstreams at a much higher rate than premenopausal women, so giving blood may be especially beneficial to men over the age of 25. This is when a man’s risk for heart attacks begins increasing with his rising iron levels, and donating blood may be one easy way to keep them under control.
Giving blood may also be useful for the elderly. One study of over 1,000 white Americans aged 67 – 96 found that although 3% had deficient