What Everyone Ought to Know About Blood Types
Blood Types and the Basics
There are only four main blood types: A, B, AB, and O. And we love them all! Your blood type can actually determine a few things about you. First, how do doctors determine who gets your blood when you give a blood donation? Second, your blood type can give some insight into your health. And lastly, depending on who you ask, your blood type may even determine what diet you should be on. More on those topics in a few, but let's dive right into the blood types and basics.
Your blood type is determined by the presence or absence of two antigens: A or B. On your red blood cells is also a special protein called Rh factor. The Rh factor can be Rh positive (+) or Rh negative (-). If you don’t have the Rh factor, that means you are Rh negative (-). When you take the A and B antigens along with the Rh factor, this creates the 8 most common blood types: A+, A-, B+, B-, AB+, AB-, O+, and O-. If your blood type is O, that means your red cells are a bunch of loners floating around without any antigens. By the way, if you have O- congrats! You are considered the universal donor. Your blood is popular and much needed because O- can be used for any blood type in transfusions.
Speaking of transfusions. Doctors need to make sure that donated blood matches the patients so that it’s safe for transfusion. Blood has special markers on the surface called antigens. These antigens determine your blood type. If the blood type doesn’t match, the immune system will naturally attack it. Fortunately, there are protocols in place at Gulf Coast Regional Blood and hospitals to make sure the donated blood gets transfused safely.
Diets and Blood Types
Interestingly some people believe our diets should be based on our blood type. This became popular in the 1990s when a naturopathic physician published a book about how you can live longer and lose or keep a healthy weight by eating a diet based on your blood type. It became a best-seller, but does it work? A recent article published by Harvard Medical School says high-quality studies about the blood type diet had not been published in peer-reviewed medical literature. But there were some other studies completed. A 2014 study found that while people followed a blood type diet, they did have some improvement in certain cardiometabolic risk factors like cholesterol or blood pressure. So, maybe it can be beneficial? Either way, any doctor will tell you diet and exercise are good for you!
Health and Blood Types
Your blood type can determine your health says Northwestern Medicine. If you have types AB and B you’re at the greatest risk of heart disease. If you have type O you’re at the lowest risk for this disease. Studies have also found people with blood type A or AB are at a greater risk for stomach cancer. Type A, B, and AB have shown an increased risk for pancreatic cancer. Type A has a hard time handling stress compared to other types.
Interested in knowing your blood type? You can find out by taking a blood test. This can be done after making a blood donation. Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center will determine your blood type after you donate. The results can be found by logging onto your Digital Donor account.
You can locate your nearest neighborhood donor center and schedule an appointment to help save lives!