It only takes about an hour out of your busy schedule and it may save a life. Donating blood may not only benefit the person who received the blood cells but may also improve the health of the donor. What are the potential health benefits of donating blood?
While the most obvious health benefit of donating blood is the wonderful feeling derived from giving something vital to someone who needs it, the benefits of donating blood may extend far beyond this to having a positive impact on the donor’s health.
Studies have shown that, in general, Americans tend to consume more iron on a daily basis than is necessary for good health. Ingestion of quantities of iron beyond a certain quantity can promote formation of free radicals in the body. Free radicals have justly earned their reputation for causing cellular changes which can disrupt normal cell function and increase the risk of certain chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. This is more likely to be a problem for men and post menopausal women since women of child bearing age shed excess iron through regular menstrual cycles. If a person happens to be a red meat eater, the risk for iron overload can be even higher.
How does blood donation help with iron overload? Blood donation removes some of the excess iron which can cause free radical formation in the body. In fact, studies have shown that men who donate blood on a regular basis have a lower risk of heart disease. With heart disease being the number one cause of death in males, this is, indeed, an important health benefit of donating blood.
How can you be sure you’re not giving away too much iron? Before you’re allowed to donate blood, your hemoglobin level, a rough measure of your iron levels, will be checked. If it’s deemed too low, you won’t be allowed to donate that day. Your hemoglobin level will be monitored closely every time you present for donation and you’ll only be allowed to donate every eight weeks to prevent too much iron from being removed from your body. It’s a free and easy way to keep track of your iron levels.
When you consider the potential health benefits of giving blood along with the joy of giving to others in need, it’s no wonder the donation of blood has become so popular. An hour spent relaxing in a chair every two months is all it takes to benefit both your health and the health of a lucky recipient. Somewhat out there someone is waiting for your generous gift of life.