June 14 is observed as World Blood Donor Day, organised by the World Health Organization to celebrate and thank voluntary blood donors.
If you're unsure about donating blood and wary of the health risks, read what doctors at Indian Red Cross Society have to say about blood donation.
“Red Blood Cells produced in our body generally have a lifespan of about 3-4 months. This means that the blood in our body today is not the same as three months ago. So it is incorrect to think that one will face deficiency of blood after donating it,” according to Dr Vanshree Singh, director of Blood Bank at Indian Red Cross Society.
Dr Vanshree Singh
Reduced risk of heart attack
It may sound odd, but excessive iron build-up in your body can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. “Heart diseases are less observed in women because of constant removal of blood through menstrual cycle. So, males in particular should consider donating blood once in three to four months to maintain the appropriate quantity of iron in blood stream,” Dr. Singh said.
Reduced risk of cancer
There's not enough evidence to prove that regular blood donation reduces the risk of cancer. However excess iron in the body has been tied to heart disease and certain types of cancer. It may, therefore, be beneficial to have blood drawn regularly.
Dr Singh also clarified frequent blood donation has no link to an increased risk of cancer.
Get free checkup to prevent potential health problems
A complete blood check-up is costly. And even when blood check-up is free how often do we actually think about getting it checked? “But, if you go for blood donation you get a complete blood check-up, and stay updated about potential health risks,” she remarked.
Increased life span
“The fact that your lifespan increases after regular blood donation is not scientifically proven, but if it affects so many organs in a good way, it will obviously help you live longer,” according to Dr Singh.
Boost your immune system
Regular blood donation rejuvenates your entire system. Spleen, the organ which is significantly involved in production and elimination of Red Blood Cells, get revitalised after blood donation. But, it is necessary to keep in mind that blood should not be donated too frequently.
Blood donation for the purpose of reducing weight is not suggested. However, there are many who claim that by donating just one pint of blood you lose 650 calories. Moreover, while donating blood, blood plasma also gets removed which contains fatty acid ( free-cholesterol). Free cholesterol is a major reason for heart attacks and fat accumulating in your body.
The biggest benefit of being a blood donor is the opportunity to save lives. By donating 350-450 ml of blood you can save up to four lives, since your blood can be utilized in four ways -- by separating it as red blood cells, platelets, fresh frozen plasma and white cells.