If you can’t remember what your blood type is, it’s best to include it the next time you get some blood tests done. Learn how your blood type can affect your health here.
We do so many things to stay healthy and combat illness—exercise, diet, maintain a sleepy schedule—but there are things that affect our health that we have no control over. One of these things is our blood type. According to new studies, they have more to do with our health than we think.
What’s your blood type?
It’s important to know your blood type when you are about to give or receive blood. Perhaps the most important reason to know your blood type is in case of an emergency.
When a situation arises that you or a loved one will be needing a blood transfusion, you have to know which blood types are compatible.
According to Healthline, your blood type is determined by the type of protein found in your red blood cells.
These are called antigens. Your blood type is classified depending on the type of antigens present in your red blood cells. The four main blood types are :
- Type A: blood containing A antigens
- Type B: blood containing B antigens
- Type AB: blood containing A and B antigens
- Type O: blood containing neither A nor B antigens
Moreover, you may have heard of the words positive or negative added to your blood type. This is determined based on the presence of another antigen called Rh factor, and whether you have it (thus the positive blood type) or you don’t (negative).
You may have already learned about your blood type when you gave birth or learned about your child’s when it was indicated on her medical records when she was born (hopefully you remember it). However, it doesn’t mean that you will have the same blood type as your child.
It’s very important that a mother and father’s blood type is compatible, to prevent Rh incompatibility which puts their baby at risk. Read more about that here.
Blood type AB negative is considered to be the rarest blood type. Meanwhile, O is said to be the universal donor (meaning this blood type is compatible with any) and AB positive is the universal recipient because they can receive red blood cells from all blood types.
But knowing about your blood type isn’t just important at the time of birth or for emergency purposes. Doing so can actually help you avoid some autoimmune diseases and health problems. Several studies show that our blood type is actually connected to our susceptibility to certain diseases.
Want to know more about it? We’ve compiled a list of the common illnesses and diseases and identified which blood type is more at risk of having them.
Blood type diseases – these health problems may be linked to your blood type
1. Stress: Type A
People with type A blood usually have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Stress, when left unchecked, can lead to more serious health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
2. Heart disease: Type AB
According to a Harvard University study in 2012, people with non-O blood have more risk for cardiovascular diseases, but those with type AB blood are at the most risk. It’s because of the gene present on the AB blood type, which is called the ABO gene.
“The ABO gene can increase your risk of coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD develops when the arteries that supply blood to and from your heart harden and narrow — which can cause a heart attack if they become blocked,” explained Dr. Douglas Guggenheim, a physician at the Abramson Cancer Center Cherry Hill in New Jersey.
3. Memory problems: Type AB
A study from the University of Vermont found that people with the AB blood type were 82% more likely to experience thinking and memory problems, which can later lead to dementia.
“Blood type has been related to diseases like stroke that have a vascular basis so we thought that maybe vascular issues contribute to memory problems,” explained lead author Dr. Mary Cushman to The Huffington Post.
4. Ulcers: Type O
People with the O blood type have antibodies that react strongly to Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), the type of bacteria that causes sores and ulcers. If you have type O blood, you’re more likely to have more stomach pain and ulcers should you come across the H. pylori bacteria.
5. Pancreatic Cancer and Stomach Cancer: Non-type O
It seems like the same antibodies that make people with type O blood more sensitive to H. pylori is what’s putting them at a lower risk for pancreatic cancer, as one study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found. People with type AB blood are more at risk when it comes to stomach cancer.
Thankfully, the risk your blood type poses is insignificant, says the study’s authors.
‘There’s little we can do about this regarding gastric cancer,” coauthor Dr. Gustaf Edgren told The Huffington Post. “But the risk associated with blood group is actually too small to make much of a difference.”
6. Other Cancers: Non-type O
Again, it’s the ABO gene that makes these blood types susceptible to different kinds of cancer. This gene has been connected to lung, breast, colorectal, prostate, liver, and cervical cancers.
7. Blood clots: Non-type O
Venous thromboembolism (VTE) happens when your blood clots in a deep vein, like the ones in your legs, which can sometimes move up to your lungs. According to research, people with type A, B, or AB blood are at a higher risk of VTE.
8. Diabetes: Non-type O
Diabetes is an autoimmune disease (a condition when your immune system attacks healthy cells in your body) that takes place when your body attacks cells in your pancreas (Type 1) or when it becomes resistant to the hormone insulin or doesn’t produce enough insulin.
There is still ongoing study about which blood types are really more at risk for this condition, but previous studies showed that A and B blood type groups were shown to be at a higher risk of developing diabetes than blood type O.
9. Rheumatoid arthritis: Type A
Like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is considered an autoimmune disease. RA causes joint pain, inflammation, and damage throughout your body. A 2017 study found that RA is more common in people who are in the Blood type A group.
10. Hashimoto’s Disease: Type O
Also known as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, it is a type of autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid and is the most common cause of hypothyroidism or having an underactive thyroid.
Our thyroid function is important as it has to do with regulating metabolism, body temperature, muscle strength, and many other functions of the body.
According to Healthline, a 2019 study showed that there is a connection between having blood type O and Hashimoto’s disease.
While we can’t do anything about our blood type, remember that these are just markers or indicators of our susceptibility to disease. There are other factors that we can control such as our diet, having regular checkups, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
“While your blood type may put you at a higher risk for certain conditions, nothing is definitive.
Being aware of how your blood type may impact your health is a good start, but it’s also just as important to see your physician for regular check-ups and maintain a healthy lifestyle,” said Dr. Guggenheim.
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