- Research discovered donating blood can help reduce the risk of heart attacks and cancer
- It has this affect by reducing iron levels which can thicken blood and increase free-radical damage
- Beneficial for weight watchers too as people burn 650 calories with every pint donated
Findings have shown that donating blood reduces the risk of heart attacks and even cancer.
It even burns 650 calories for every pint given.
The news could come as welcome boost to British blood banks which use an average of 7,000 units of blood every day.
It is thought that the benefits arise from lowering high iron levels.
Iron affects how thick and sticky the texture of the blood is. High iron levels causes the blood to be thicker.
Raised iron levels also accelerate the oxidisation process of cholesterol.
This can affect blood consistency and create increased friction as it travels through blood vessels.
As this increases wear and tear to the lining of arteries it could then contribute to cardiovascular disease.
Because donating blood removes some of its iron content, it may therefore have a protective benefit if done on a consistent basis by helping thin the blood.
According to a study from the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that those aged 43 to 61 had fewer heart attacks and strokes when they donated blood every six months.
A study of 2,682 men from Finland found they had an 88 per cent reduced risk of heart attacks than those who don’t donate, reported Medical Daily.
Likewise, a study published in the Journal of the National cancer Institute also links iron to an increased cancer risk as it’s believed to increase free-radical damage in the body.
In line with this theory, a four-and-a-half-year study involving 1,200 people found those who made bi-annual blood donations had a lower incidence of cancer and mortality than those who didn’t because blood donations lowered their iron levels.
However, these benefits depend on making donations on a regular basis, rather than once in a while.
Another side effect of donating blood is that it can burns a large number of calories too.
After donating blood, the body replaces all of the blood volume within 48 hours, and all the red blood cells within four to eight weeks.
The University of California in San Diego estimate that for every one pint of blood donated, 650 calories are burned as the body must replenish itself.
Although this could be seen as an attractive effort-free way to lose weight, the NHS Blood and Transplant centre still encourage people to donate for altruistic purposes for the benefit others first, rather than for themselves.
The NHS Blood and Transplant service currently collects 2 million units of blood each year from 1.3 million British blood donors.