4 Great Reasons to Donate Blood
(hint… it’ll improve your health)
One: You can help someone whose life may depend on your donation. Most blood banks, like Blood Works Northwest in the Puget Sound, are always needing more blood and they can store the blood for about 42 days. Approximately 25% of Americans will need a blood transfusion at some point in their lives. You or a loved one may be one of them.
Two: There is some evidence to show that donating blood can lower your risk of heart disease. A recent study from Finland found that men who donated blood two times a year decreased their cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk by 80%. The theory behind this is that when you have an infection or if your body is inflamed, the iron in the blood can react with the organism or certain molecules and create more inflammation or what is called oxidative stress (damage to the cells). Excess inflammation puts you at a higher risk for almost all diseases, in particular heart disease and it speeds up the aging process. More research is being done and a similar study in the journal Heart, found that men who donated blood two times a year had decreased risk of CVD. The Red Cross did a study and found that those subjects who donated blood four times a year had increased blood flow with less resistance and less oxidative stress.
Three: Not only are there benefits for your heart, but there is also the possibility of decreasing your risk for cancer. A study published in the Journal of the American Cancer Institute found that volunteers who donated blood twice a year over 4 1/2 years had a lower risk of cancer and overall mortality.
Four: On a lighter note, it has been estimated that by donating one pint of blood, you can burn up to 650 calories! Just avoid the post blood draw cookies and go for some water and a piece of fresh fruit. You will be healthier for it.
Donating blood is safe for males and females. If you are a female who is menstruating, it is still fine to donate blood but you may want to donate less often, perhaps one time a year. All blood banks will check your hematocrit levels for anemia to make sure it is safe for you to donate. If you are interested in donating blood here are some links to help you:
1 Am J Epidemiology. 1998 Sep 1;148(5):445-51
2 Heart. 1997 August; 78(2): 188-193. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC484902/
Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology. 2005 Aug;25(8):157-783.
4 Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Volume 100, Issue 14, 16 July 2008, Pages 996–1002.