There is a reason why the World Health Organization describes blood donation as “the most precious gift anyone can give to another person”: one sample of donated blood can save up to three lives. However, blood donation does not benefit only those who receive the blood. Donors also experience a number of benefits. Check out these five important health benefits people experience when they donate blood.
Free Blood Tests
Donating blood is one way to get a free blood test. During the donation process, people are screened to determine if they are healthy enough to give blood and if they have any blood pressure problems or infections. The blood is also tested after donation to ensure it is safe to be given to another person. After giving blood, donors can ask to be notified if there are any irregularities in their blood, which can save them a visit to the doctor’s office and, perhaps, even a medical bill. A sixty-three-year-old grandmother in the United Kingdom was in the process of donating blood when the preliminary screening process detected irregularities. It turned out she had bowel cancer, which doctors detected at an early stage because of her blood screening test.
Satisfaction Of Saving Human Lives
People who donate blood experience the mental health benefit of knowing they have helped another person. After receiving a blood transfusion that saved his life when he was young, Australian James Harrison decided to pay it forward and began donating blood as soon as he turned eighteen years old. Since this time, Harrison has made more than 1,100 blood donations over sixty years, making him the holder of a Guinness World Record for most blood donations. Estimates suggest he has now saved the lives of two million unborn babies because of the rare genetic makeup of his plasma, which can treat Rhesus disease. Not everyone can donate blood as frequently as Harrison has. However, knowing that even a single donation of their blood can save up to three lives gives many people a strong sense of satisfaction.
On average, people burn 650 calories during the blood donation process, which is equivalent to the number of calories burned during an average spin class. For this reason, donors must meet minimum weight and age requirements to ensure they can give blood safely. For example, the American Red Cross recommends that donors be at least sixteen years old and weigh at least 110 pounds. The body replaces the volume of donated blood within forty-eight hours, a process some people describe as an ‘oil-change’ because the surge in new blood allows muscles and organs to function more effectively. Blood donation should never be used as a strategy to lose weight, but the opportunity to burn some extra calories is still a benefit of blood donation most people do not expect.
Reduced Risk Of Heart Disease
An excessive build up of iron in the body can be dangerous for cardiovascular health. Donating blood can help people who consume foods rich in iron limit the build up and oxidation of iron in the body, which has been linked to heart attacks and strokes. Research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 1998 suggests that blood donation is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular problems, such as heart attacks, because of reduced iron stores in the body. It also provides evidence that regular blood donors are 88 percent less likely than nondonors to have a heart attack.
Reduced Risk Of Cancer
Studies published in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggest that regular blood donors have lower rates of cancer than nondonors. When giving blood, some oxidized iron that has built up in the body is released from the bloodstream. Oxidized iron places stress on organs and accelerates aging. The build up of iron in the body can also cause cancer. Evidence reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in 2008 shows that lower levels of iron in the body reduce the likelihood of cancerous tumour growth, and as mentioned earlier, regular blood donation reduces iron stores in the body. Although more research is needed to understand the link between regular blood donation and cancer risk, the initial results suggest that donating blood has anti-cancer benefits.