Why Donating Blood May Be a Good Deed For Your Body Too
We know that giving blood is an act of life-saving benevolence. Rolling up your sleeve for 45 minutes can rescue the lives of as many of three patients. But did you know that it can provide benefits for you too? It turns out, a regular blood donor may reap many perks.
Here are four health benefits that may pay you back for your contribution.
LOWER IRON LEVELS
Studies suggest that many of us consume more irons than we need to maintain good health. Lower the iron levels in your body every time you give blood, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease.
High blood iron levels have the potential to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease because iron accelerates the oxidation process of cholesterol in the body, which damages arteries. Iron stimulates cells to churn out free radicals, molecules that may contribute to cancer and other diseases of aging. Studies show that high iron levels in your blood are also associated with premature aging.
Women tend to outlive men and are generally better at postponing the onset of age-related diseases, and one theory involves iron loss due to menstruation.
Do you have high iron levels? Get your levels checked to find out. Ferritin measures iron stores in the blood. Levels between 50 and 100 ng/mL are ideal. Levels below 50 ng/mL can cause problems, such as anxiety, fatigue, restless legs, and ADHD. High levels, over 250 ng/mL are associated with iron overload and increase the risk of inflammation, heart disease and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
Causes of high iron levels: Causes of too much iron include regular alcohol consumption, cooking in iron pans, foods fortified with iron, well water high in iron, or vitamin or mineral supplements with extra iron. Some people are genetically predisposed to absorb too much iron from food.
REDUCE CANCER RISK
High iron levels can also contribute to the development and growth of tumors. A 2014 study in Cancer Research found that high iron levels in the blood were associated with a 25% increased risk of all cancers and a 39% increase in the risk of dying from cancer. And consuming large amounts of dietary iron is linked with increased risk of colorectal cancer.
Consistent blood donation is associated with lowered risks for cancers, including liver, lung, colon, stomach, and throat cancers. Risk levels dropped in correlation with how often participants donated blood. As a rule, you can safely donate blood every 56 days.
REDUCE HEART ATTACK RISK
High levels of iron in the blood have been cited as a risk factor for heart attack. Regular blood donors can mitigate that risk. Research shows that men who donate regularly over many years have an 88% lower risk of heart attacks and a 33% lower risk of any severe cardiovascular event, such as a stroke.
When you donate blood, your body replaces the blood volume within 48 hours of donation, and all of the red blood cells you lose during donation are completely replaced within four to eight weeks. This process of replenishment can help your body stay healthy and work more efficiently and productively.
ENHANCE MENTAL WELL-BEING
Donating blood can also improve your emotional health. According to the Mental Health Foundation, doing good for others is also good for your psyche. Among the many emotional benefits are:
- Reducing stress
- Enhancing emotional well-being
- Minimizing negative thoughts and feelings
- Providing a sense of belonging and reducing feelings of social isolation
Every 2 seconds, someone in the United States needs blood, with a total of 44,000 blood donations needed every day. By donating blood, you can help people who are fighting cancer, as well as those suffering from a bleeding disorder, chronic anemia, and other blood abnormalities. Not only does it help you save lives, but it also helps you stay physically and mentally healthy in the process.
Be aware that age and weight restrictions regarding blood donations may vary from state to state. Be sure to check if you’re eligible to donate.