Next time you get blood work, ask this one question

By: Dr. Victor Marchione | Cancer | Thursday, November 13, 2014 - 05:01 AM

blood, heartMaybe you are the type of person who isn’t in a rush when it comes time to have your blood taken. You wouldn’t be alone. The idea can make the best of us a little queasy.

Regardless of any fears of the needle, knowing your blood type is more important than you may realize. So the next time you have blood work done, ask to know your blood type.

Studies are now showing the link between different blood types and most everything from the risk of heart disease to cancer. Knowing your blood type gives you some valuable insight, and a chance to take preventative steps to ward off sickness.

What your blood type is telling you about your health

First of all, blood types AB, A and B can increase the risk of blood clots. Danish researchers from Copenhagen University Hospital looked at how certain blood types have a genetic predisposition for deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) – life-threatening blood clots in the lower legs that travel to the lungs.

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After they examined data on more than 65,000 participants over 30 years of age, they found those with type AB, A or B, had a 40 percent higher risk of DVT than those with type O which is the most common blood type.

In fact, further analysis to determine which factors have the biggest impact on DVT risk on a population revealed that an AB blood type was most significant, contributing to roughly 20 percent of blood clots. Genetic mutations made up about 11 percent, being overweight about 16 percent and smoking about 6 percent.

Connection to heart disease and cancer

Harvard scientists have looked at more than two decades of data for 75,000 participants and learned that those with AB blood had a 23 percent increased risk for heart disease. That’s compared to people with type O blood.

Those with blood type B, on the other hand, had an 11 percent greater risk. And those with type A blood had a 5 percent higher risk. Although researchers don’t know why exactly, they suggest that type A blood is closely linked to cholesterol levels.

Those with type O have reduced risk because of lower cholesterol and more of a chemical within the blood that boosts blood flow and prevents blood clots.

Most common blood type is type O

A 2010 Swedish study from the Karolinska Institute discovered that people with blood type A increased their chances of developing gastric cancer by 20 percent compared to those with blood types O and B.

Swedish researchers also found that people with blood type O had a heightened risk for stomach ulcers. That’s because they may be more susceptible to what’s called Helicobacter pylori bacteria, a bacteria which cause most sores in your stomach.

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Of course, while these findings really can’t say a certain blood type will definitely cause a certain disease, the studies do explore the importance of understanding your own blood-type – whether it’s A, B, AB or O – and how it affects your overall health. Any information to give you a heads-up about your risks can help keep you prepared.

Just as important, once you determine your blood type, you can donate blood or get blood transfusions from donors, too. It only takes a few minutes to save a life after all.  

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