8 Surprising Benefits of Donating Blood

You can save lives—and improve your health—with one simple act.
Blood donor smiling at camera on a sunny day

You probably know how much donating blood can help others. According to the Red Cross, every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. It can take 100 pints of blood to save the life of a single car accident victim. And patients with sickle cell diseases or cancers need blood transfusions during treatment. Since blood can't be manufactured, these people depend on blood donors. 

A lot of them. 

But what are the health benefits to the blood donor? You might be surprised to learn that you get more than a sense of pride. The Remedy asked a doctor and scoured the medical journals to bring you some of the reasons to consider blood donation.

1

Reduce Iron Overload

Blood sample for serum iron (SI) test, diagnosis for anemia disease
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One in every 200 people in the U.S. is affected by hemochromatosis, a serious chronic condition in which the body absorbs too much iron in the blood. "We need a certain amount, but over time this may build up to unhealthy levels that deposit in the heart or liver," says Dr. Joshua Mansour MD, a board-certified hematologist and oncologist. Giving blood regularly is an effective way to reduce extra iron levels.

2

Replenish Your Blood Cells

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This might sound backward, but stick with us. When you donate blood, your body goes into overdrive producing new blood cells to replenish what you've given. That's because your bone marrow gets a message that your oxygens levels are lower (due to the loss of red blood cells), so your body pumps up the generation of blood cells in the bone marrow.

3

Lower Risk of Heart Attacks

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Giving blood is good for your heart. According to the American Journal of Epidemiology, blood donors are 88% less likely to have a heart attack than those who don't give blood. This may be linked to the reduction of iron and because donating helps increase blood flow, making it less damaging to vessels.

4

Lower Your Cancer Risk

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People who donate blood regularly show lower rates of cancer than their non-donor peers, according to a report published in the Journal of the National Cancer Association. Investigators found the risk of certain types of cancers associated with high iron stores (such as colon and liver cancers) were reduced in those who gave blood, which suggests a link.

5

Burn Calories

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Giving blood can give your weight loss goals a boost—you can burn about 650 calories every time you donate a pint, according to the University of California-San Diego. That's about the same as jumping rope for 50 minutes. A big calorie burn shouldn't be your main reason for donating blood, but it sure is a nice perk.

6

Keep Your Liver Healthy

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You read that right: Blood donation is good for your health. Your liver suffers when your blood is overloaded with iron, and giving blood is a way to manage that. One study found a link between excess iron with Hepatitis C, liver cancer, and other nasty infections. While not a cure, donating blood can help deplete some of that excess iron and avoid depositing too much of it in your liver.

7

Reveal Potential Health Issues

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Blood donors are screened for a host of ailments including anemia, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, Zika Virus and others. While this is to ensure your blood is healthy and safe to use in a transfusion, it also gives you the chance to find out if you have a health problem that needs attention.

8

You Can Make the World a Better Place—for Free

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It costs nothing to save a life; why wouldn't you do it??? Click here to find a Red Cross Blood Drive near you. And to live your happiest and healthiest life, don't miss these Worst Things For Your Health—According to Doctors

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