10 Surprising Reasons You Should Know Your Blood Type (PHOTOS)

doctor's clipboard and vial of bloodWith gadgets like FitBit and programs like the iPhone's Health app becoming more and more prevalent, we'll all soon have instant access to our personal health record. But plenty of us are still in the dark when it comes to certain details. That said, knowledge is power, especially when it comes to knowing your blood type.

"It's important to know your blood type to prevent the risk of receiving an incompatible blood type at a time of need, such as during a blood transfusion or surgery," notes Mike Quint, director, Geisinger Blood Center in Pittston, Pennsylvania. "If two different blood types are mixed, it can lead to a clumping of blood cells that can be fatal. Thankfully, prior to receiving a blood transfusion, your blood type is tested and cross-matched against the donor blood, which minimizes the risk of transfusion reaction."

But Quint and other experts agree this scenario isn't the only case for learning your blood type. We rounded up 10 other, surprising reasons you should know it. Check them out below, then tell us: When has knowing your blood type come in handy?

 

Image via iStock.com/peepo

  • It Could Affect Your Fertility

    1

    If you're a type O, you may struggle with infertility. At least that's what researchers from Yale University and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine concluded in a study that found women with blood type O were twice as likely to have blood levels of the hormone FSH high enough to indicate low ovarian reserve.

    That said, type O is also the most prevalent across all ethnic groups in the US, so researchers emphasized that women shouldn't focus on it as a risk factor for fertility problems.

  • It May Influence Your Blood Clot Risk

    2

    If you're type AB, A, or B, you may have a higher risk of blood clots. "There is a significantly higher frequency of people [who are not] type O with diagnoses of venous thromboembolism (VTE), clots in veins, usually of the lower extremities," explains Phillip J. DeChristopher, MD, PhD, medical director of the blood bank at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois. "It appears that being group O is 'protective' against VTE."

    What's more, research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that 20 percent of blood clots could be attributed to having the AB blood type, which is associated with higher levels of clotting factor VIII, a blood protein which, in excess, can cause clots to form too easily.

  • It Could Be a Clue to a Better Way to Eat

    3

    Some people swear by the Blood Type Diet created by naturopath Peter J. D'Adamo. D'Adamo says that the foods you eat react chemically with your blood type, so if you follow a diet designed for your particular blood type, your body will digest food more efficiently.

    Studies have shown that "Blood Type diets" may be associated with favorable effects on some cardiometabolic risk factors, although researchers are hesitant to attribute those effects directly to eating for your blood type. Still, could be worth a shot!

  • It Could Slightly Raise Dementia Risk

    4

    Type ABs make up only 4 percent of the population, and recent research published in the journal Neurology found that over about three years, individuals with blood type AB were almost twice as likely to show memory problems as those with type O blood, the most common blood group.

    That said, experts note that if you do have AB blood, you can change other factors that play a bigger role in raising risk of mental impairment, like smoking, not exercising enough, etc.

  • It May Influence Your Pregnancy

    5

    If you're trying to conceive or pregnant, it's important to know your blood type and whether or not your blood has or lacks the Rh antigen, notes Quint.

    "Research has shown that blood type incompatibility between the mother and her fetus, or between the mother and the father, can contribute to the inability to conceive or carry to term," Quint says. "This is largely due to blood antigens, which create antibodies to protect your body against foreign intruders. In general, we recommend pregnant women determine their Rh blood type, which the second most important blood system after ABO. If a women is Rh-negative and pregnant with a baby who is Rh-positive, it can lead to a condition known as Rh-incompatibility. If the blood of the Rh-positive baby mixes with the mother’s, this can trigger the production of antibodies against the baby’s blood."

    The good news: Production of these antibodies will not affect the baby during that pregnancy, but future pregnancies with Rh-positive babies can lead to a fatal outcome for the baby. "To avoid this risk, if a woman is Rh-negative, we suggest she receive an immunoglobulin shot, which can prevent antibody production," Quint notes. "Of course, the best advice is to talk to your doctor when you decide it’s time to conceive."

  • It May Affect Your Heart Disease Risk

    6

    Research out of Harvard that analyzed more than two decades of data on more than 77,000 concluded that people who had an AB blood type had a 23 percent increased risk for heart disease compared to people with type O blood. And people with type B blood had an 11 percent higher risk, while those with A blood had 5 percent higher risk. This may be the case, researchers suspect, because type A blood is associated with LDL cholesterol and type O blood may contain a chemical that bolsters blood flow and keeps clots at bay.

  • It Could Be a Red Flag for Cancer Screenings

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    "Studies show a small increased risk for gastric and pancreatic cancers among those with A, B, or AB blood types," notes Quint. 

  • It Could Lead You to a More Effective Workout

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    Like the Blood Type Diet, the Blood Type workout created by Joseph Christiano, ND, author of Blood Types, Body Types, and You, works under the assumption that your blood type also influences your reaction to your workouts, so you should tailor your gym plan to your blood type.

  • You Could Save Lives

    9

    "One of the most valuable reasons to know about your blood type is to help others -- who could even be your family or friends," says Quint. "[Blood centers] are often looking for potential donors and will alert the public when there is a need to help others such as cancer or surgical patients or accident victims. We sometimes require specific blood types, so when you hear your type is needed, it’s your opportunity to roll up your sleeve and donate."

  • It May Influence How You Handle Stress

    10

    Research has shown that people who have type A blood naturally have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol and produce more in response to stressful situations. At the same time, people with type O blood tend toward overproduction of adrenaline. Knowing this could help you make lifestyle choices and adopt stress management plans that better suit and serve you.

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